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SOMMAIRE

The Apocalypseof Peter: a JewishChristian Apocalypse from the Time of Bar Kokhba, par Richard BAUCKHAM

7

 

-Introduction.

7

-I.

The literary and historical context.

16

-II.

Judgment.

43

-III.

The Destiny of the Elect

86

-IV:

Peter.

97

-Bibliography.

106

Une nouvelle citation des Actes de Paul chezOrigene,

parFran~oisBovoN

113

Genre of the Acts ofPaul:

One Tradition EnhancingAnother,

parAnnG.BRocK

119

Un manuscritsyriaque de Teheran contenant des apocryphes,

parAlainDEsREUMAUX

137

A propos d'une refonte de la Narratio Iosephi, jadis confondue avecles Acta Pilati, et d'un drame religieux qu'elle a inspire, par Remi GOUNELLE

165

Sells et usaged'apocryphus dans la Legendedoree, par Remi GOUNELLE

189

Les Viesde la Vierge: etat de la question, par SimonC. MIMOUNI

211

Themesapocryphes de l'iconographie des eglises de Tarentaiseet de Maurienne (Savoie),

parCatherinePAuPERT

249

Les apocryphesdans la tragedie ChristusPatiens,

parMarekSTAROWIEYSKI

269

-

Colloque sur la litterature apocryphe chretienne

Lausanne-Geneve

22-25 mars 1995

Ce colloque est organise par leg Facultes de theologie des Universites de Lausanne et de Geneve, it l'initiative des membres du groupe suisse romand de l' Association pour l'etude de la litterature apocryphe chretienne. Le programme est maintenant definitivement etabli. La centaine de savants qui ont annonce leur partici- pation concentreront leurs travaux autour de deux grands themes.

Reecriture

et image

La reecriture et la mise en image comme phenomenesconstants de la production et de la reception des apocryphes. Comment se transforment et survivent ces textes dans la litterature medievale, l'iconographie, Ie folklore?

La litterature

apocryphe face au questionnement theologique

Les problemes souleves par leg divers types de rapport que leg ecrits apocryphes

la formation du canon biblique. Quelles sont leg

entretiennent avec 1, Ecriture et avec

caracteristiquestheologiques de chacun de ces textes et comment leg reperer et leg eva- luer?

Le colloque s'ouvrira Ie mercredi soir par une conference de Michel Tardieu (College de France) intitule Le proces de Jesus vu par les Manicheens. Pendant leg deux jours suivants, it Geneve et it Lausanne, leg participants travailleront en sessionsparalleles. Le jeudi, ils visiteront la Bibliotheque Bodmer it Cologny, et Ie vendredi soir, ils pourront assister it un debat sur la question «Pourquoi publier leg apocryphes it desti- nation du grand public?». Les exposes de la sessionpleniere du samedi, ouverte it un public plus large, reprendront leg themes principaux du colloque.

La publication des actes ducolloque

est prevue.

Pour Ie Comite d'organisation I.-D. Kaestli

Institut des sciencesbibliques

Universite de Lausanne Batiment central CH-IO15 Lausanne

tel.: (41 21) 692 27 39

fax: (4121) 692 2735

E-mail: Afrey@clsuni51.bitnet

APOCRYPHA
APOCRYPHA
APOCRYPHA
APOCRYPHA
Revue Internationale des Litteratures Apocryphes International Journal of Apocryphal Literatures
Revue Internationale des Litteratures
Apocryphes
International Journal of Apocryphal Literatures
Comite de redaction P. GEOLTRAIN, R. GOUNELLE, E. JUNOD, S. C. MIMOUNI, J.-C. PICARD
Comite de redaction
P. GEOLTRAIN, R. GOUNELLE, E. JUNOD,
S. C. MIMOUNI, J.-C. PICARD
Secretariat de redaction S. C. MIMOUNI
Secretariat de redaction
S. C. MIMOUNI
Revue publiee avec Ie concours scientifique de l' Association pour l'etude de la litterature apocryphe chretienne
Revue publiee avec Ie concours scientifique
de l' Association pour l'etude de la litterature apocryphe chretienne
(A.E.LA.C.)
et de la Societe pour l'etude de la litterature apocryphe chretienne
(S.E.LA.C.)
BREPOLS
BREPOLS
@ 1994BREPOLS All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,stored in a retrieval
@ 1994BREPOLS
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced,stored
in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means,
electronic; mechanical, recording, or otherwise,
without the prior permission of the publisher.
Depot legal: 4etrimestre 1994
D/1994/0095/43
Imprime en Belgique
ISSN 1155-3316
ISBN 2-503-50398-5
SOMMAIRE
SOMMAIRE
The Apocalypse of Peter: a Jewish Christian Apocalypse from the Time of Bar Kokhba, 7 -Introduction.
The
Apocalypse
of
Peter:
a
Jewish
Christian
Apocalypse
from
the
Time
of
Bar
Kokhba,
7
-Introduction. -II. par
-I. Richard TheJudgment literary BAUCKHAM """""""""""""""'" and historical context.
7
16
43
86
-Bibliography.
-III.
-IV:
Peter.
The
Destiny
of
the
Elect
97106
Une nouvelle citation des Actes de Paul
chezOrigene,
par Fran~oisBOYaN.
Genre of the Acts of Paul:
One Tradition EnhancingAnother,
parAnnG.BRocK
119
Un manuscritsyriaque de Teheran contenant
des apocryphes,
par Alain DESREUMAUX
A propos d'une refonte de la Narratio Iosephi,
jadis confondueavec les Acta Pilati,
et d'un drame religieux qu'elle a inspire,
par Remi GOUNELLE
165
Senset usaged'apocryphus dans la Legendedoree,
par Remi GOUNELLE
Les Vies de fa Vierge: etat de la question,
par Simon C. MIMOUNI
.211
Themesapocryphes de l'iconographie des eglises
de Tarentaiseet de Maurienne (Savoie),
parCatherinePAuPERT
249
Les apocryphesdans la tragedie
ChristusPatiens,
par Marek STAROWIEYSKI
.
269
Richard BA UCKHAM University of St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland.
Richard BA UCKHAM
University of St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland.
THE APOCALYPSE OF PETER
THE APOCALYPSE OF PETER
JEWISH CHRISTIAN APOCALYPSE FROM THE TIME OF BAR KOKHBA Dans cette etude,I' Apocalypse de Pierre, trap
JEWISH
CHRISTIAN
APOCALYPSE
FROM
THE
TIME
OF BAR
KOKHBA
Dans cette etude,I' Apocalypse de Pierre, trap longtempsnegligee par
les critiques, apres une miseen contextelitteraire et historique, estpresen-
tee en insistant sur les nombreusesthematiques concernant Ie jugement
eschatologique.
The Apocalypse of Peter deservesto be rescuedfrom the extreme scholarly neglect it has suffered. This is
The Apocalypse of Peter deservesto be rescuedfrom the extreme
scholarly neglect it has suffered. This is not becauseit is a work of any
great literary or theological merit. But, of course, texts of historical
importance for our understanding of the history of religion frequently
have no great literary or theological merit.
INTROD{!JCTION
INTROD{!JCTION
1. Why studythe Apocalypseof Peter?
1. Why studythe Apocalypseof Peter?
The Apocalypse of Peter dese~es to be ing reasons: studied for the follow- 1.- It is
The Apocalypse of Peter dese~es to be
ing reasons:
studied for the follow-
1.-
It is probably the most neglected of all Christian works
written before 150 C.E. It has, of course, suffered the general
stigma
and neglect accorded to apocryphal works by comparison
with those in the canon of the New Test~ment or even those
assignedto the category of the Apostolic Fathers. But whereas
other Christian apocryphal literature of the earliest period -
such as apocryphal Gospels or the Ascension of Isaiah -have
very recently been studied in some depth and are beginning to
be rescued as significant evidenQeof the early development of
Christianity, the Apocalypse of Peter has been given very little
serious scholarly attention. Sureltj for those who are interested
in Christian origins any Christian work from the first century or
so of Christian history deservesthe closeststudy.

A

Apocrypha 5,1994, p. 7-111
Apocrypha 5,1994, p. 7-111
R R. BAUCKHAM 2.- In section II of this book I shall argue that the Apocalypse
R
R. BAUCKHAM
2.-
In
section II
of
this
book
I shall argue that the
Apocalypse of Peter derives from Palestinian Jewish Christianity
during the Bar Kokhba war of 132-135C.E. This makes it a very
rare example of an extant work deriving
from Palestinian Jewish
Christianity in the period after the New Testament literature. It
deservesan important place in any attempt to consider the very
obscure matter of what happened to Jewish Christianity in
Palestine in the period after 70 C.E.
3.-
Outside Palestinian Jewish Christianity, the Apocalypseof
Peter evidently became a very popular work in the church as a
whole, from the secondto
the fourth centuries 1. It seemsto have
been widely read in east and west. In some circles at least it
was
treated as Scripture. Along with the Shepherdof Hermas, it was
probably
the
work which came
closest to being i:ncluded
in the
canon of
the
New Testament while being eventually excluded.
After an early period of popularity, however, it
ed. This must have been largely becausein its
almost disappear-
major function -
as a revelation
of the fate of human beings after death -it was
superseded by other apocalypses: in the Latin west and in the
Coptic and Syriac speaking churches of the east by the
Apocalypse of Paul, in the Greek east by the Apocalypse of the
Virgin Mary. For a number of reasonsthese proved in the long
run more acceptable, and the Apocalypse of Peter very nearly
perished altogether. But the fact that for two or three centuries
it seems to have appealed strongly to the Christian religious
imagination makes it an important historical source.
4.-
The Apocalypse of Peter preserves Jewish apocalyptic
traditions. Becauseof the prevalent artificial distinction between
the Jewish apocalypsesand the Christian apocalypses,this is the
respect in which the Apocalypse of Peter has been neglected
even more than in other respects. But there is in fact relatively
little that is distinctively Christian about the Apocalypse of Pete!:
Much of its content reproduces Jewish apocalyptic traditions. It
can therefore be used, of course with appropriate caution, as a
source for Jewish apocalyptic ideas of the early second century
C.E. And it reminds us how very much Judaism and Christianity
had in common at that period.
1.
R.
BAUCKHAM, «The
Apocalypse of
Peter:
An
Account
of
Research», in W. HAASE ed., Aufstieg und Niedergang der romischen
Welt, vol. 2.25/6 (Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 1988), p. 4739-4741;
D.
D. BUCHHOLZ,Your Eyes Will Be Opened,' A Study of the Greek
(Ethiopic) Apocalypse of Peter (SBLDS 97; Atlanta, Georgia: Scholars
Press,1988), p. 20-80.
APOCALYPSE OF PETER 9 As these four reasons for studying the Apocalypse of Peter suggest,our study
APOCALYPSE OF PETER
9
As these four reasons for studying the Apocalypse of Peter
suggest,our study of the work in this article
will focus on the ori-
ginal work in the
context in which it was first written.
This is
only one aspect of the way in which the Christian apocryphal
literature
needs to be studied. Many Christian apocryphal works
(and the same is true of Jewish apocryphal literature) are best
understood as developing literature: works which developed as
they were transmitted over many centuries in a variety of cultural
contexts. They were translated, expanded, abbreviated, adapted.
In some casesthe attempt to reconstruct an original text may be
quite impossible or inappropriate. However, in the case of the
Apocalypse of Peter we may fairly confidently assign it a date
and place of origin, and also, despite the fact that most of the
text does not survive in its original language, we may be fairly
confident of the content of the original work. There are places
where we may not be able to be sure of the original text, but by
and large we can know what the first readers read. So in the case
of the Apocalypse of Peter,the liistorical exercise of placing the
work in its original context is a justifiable one and will yield
significant historical results.
2.
The Text of the
Apocalypseof Peter.
The Apocalypse of Peter was probably written originally in
Greek and certainly was known in Greek to the Church Fathers.
(Whether a Latin version was known in the Latin-speaking
churches in the early centuries is much less certain.) Unfor-
tunately, because, after an initial period of
popularity, the
Apocalypse of Peter fell out of favour in most of the church, very
little of it survives in Greek. We have only two small manuscript
fragments (the Bodleian and Rainer fragments) and a few
quotations in the Fathers. (For details on these fragments and
quotations, see the Bibliography below.) In addition, there is
one lengthy fragment in Greek (the Akhmim fragment), but this
is a secondary,redacted form of the text, which cannot be relied
on as evidence of the original form of the Apocalypse of Peter
(see below). For our knowledge 'of the apocalypsewe are there-
fore largely dependent on the Ethiopic version. This version,
which contains the full contents of the original second-century
Apocalypse of Peter, is the only version of the Apocalypse of
Peter known to be extant. It was probably, like most Ethiopic
versions of apocryphal works, tr~slated from an Arabic transla-
tion of the Greek, but an Arabic yersion has not been discovered.
Any study of the Apocalypse of Peter must therefore depend
10 R. BAUCKHAM heavily on the Ethiopic version. Probably this is one reasonwhy, since the identification
10
R. BAUCKHAM
heavily on the Ethiopic version. Probably this is one reasonwhy,
since the identification of the Ethiopic version by M.
R. James in
1911, the Apocalypse of Peter has received very little scholarly
attention. Scholars have been dubious whether the Ethiopic
version can be trusted to give us reliable accessto the second-
century Apocalypse of Peter.Those who have studied the matter
with some care,
such as M. R. James himself and, more recently,
D.
D. Buchholz, have
not shared suchdoubts. But some indication
of the reasons for trusting the Ethiopic version must be given
here, in order to justify our use of it in this book.
Only two, closely related manuscripts of the Apocalypse of
Peter are known. (For details, see the Bibliography.) In both
manuscripts the Apocalypse of Peter is the first part of a longer
work «<The second coming of Christ
and the resurrection of the
dead »), the rest of which was clearly inspired by the Apocalypse
of Peter. This continuation of the ancient apocalypse, which
probably originated in Arabic, would be of considerable interest
if we were studying the later history of the Apocalypse of Pete!:
But for our present intention of studying the Apocalypse of
Peter in its original, early second-centurycontext, the important
point is that we can be sure that the text of the Apocalypse of
Peter itself has not been affected by this later continuation of it.
The section of the Ethiopic work which is the ancient
Apocalypse of Peter can be distinguished from the rest with no
difficulty. Whereas the Apocalypse of Peter itself is written as
though by Peter in the first person, the later continuation begins
by introducing Peter's disciple Clement, who writes in the first
person and reports what Peter said to him (accordingto a literary
convention of the later Pseudo-Clementine literature). More-
over, Buchholz has demonstrated that the writer responsible for
the continuation of the Apocalypse of Peter which we have in
the Ethiopic text did not tamper with the content of the
Apocalypse of Peter itself. He merely added; he did not modify 2.
The general reliability of the Ethiopic version as faithful to
the original text of the Apocalypse of Peter can be demonstrated
by four main points:
1.- There is the general consideration that the Ethiopic translation of apocryphal texts seems, as a
1.-
There is the general consideration that the Ethiopic
translation of apocryphal texts seems, as a general
faithful translation, and such works were not usually
rule, to be
adapted or
2. D. D. BUCHHOLZ,Your Eyes Will Be Opened, op. cit, p. 376-386. Buchholz argues for some
2.
D. D. BUCHHOLZ,Your Eyes Will Be Opened, op. cit, p. 376-386.
Buchholz argues for some minor changes,but I do not find his argument
that these are due to the author of the continuation at all compelling.

APOCALYPSE

OF PETER

11

modified in the Ethiopic tradition. This contrasts with some

other languagesin which apocryphalworks have been transmitted

-such as Slavonic and Armenian -where creative development

of the text has often taken place in those traditions. Of course,the

Ethiopic may well include erroneous translations and textual cor-

ruptions -and in the case of the Apocalypse of Peter these are

certainly present -but deliberate adaptation of the text is rare.

2.- The general reliability of the Ethiopic version is

confirmed by the two small Greek fragments and the patristic

quotations 3.

  • 3.- There are passagesin the second Sibylline Oracle,probably

from the late second century, which are clearly closely depend-

ent on the Apocalypse of Peter as we know it from the Ethiopic

version and confirm the reliability of the Ethiopic version4.

  • 4.- Detailed study of the Apocalypse of Peter repeatedly

confirms that the content of the work in the Ethiopic version

belongs to the period in which the ancient Apocalypse of Peter

was written. All the parallels with other literature show this.

There is hardly a single idea in the Ethiopic Apocalypse of Peter

which can only be paralleled at a date much later than the early

second century.

These reasons for confidence in the general reliability of the

Ethiopic version do not mean that it is reliable in every detail.

The translation is clearly sometimes erroneous and was appar-

ently. made by a translator whose command of Ge'ez was very

limited 5, so that the Ethiopic text is frequently obscure. But

such obscurities can often be clarified by careful use of parallels

in ancient Jewish and Christian literature.

As well as thus justifying

our predominant reliance on the

Ethiopic version in this book, it may be necessaryalso to justify

the fact that little reference will

be made to the Akhmim Greek

fragment. This fragment is part of a manuscript, probably of the

eighth or ninth century, which also contains a section of the

Gospel of Peter (the only substantial section of this work which

has survived) and parts of 1 Enoch, and which was placed in the

grave of a Christian monk. It is clear that the manuscript is a

small collection of texts about the other world, and was placed in

  • 3. M. R. JAMES,« A New Text of the Apocalypseof Peter», Journalof

TheologicalStudies 12 (1911),p. 367-375,573-583; K. PRIMM,« De

genuinoApocalypsis Petri textu: ExamentestiUm iam notorum et novi

fragmenti Raineriani», Biblica 10 (1929),p. 62-80; BUCHHOLZ,

Your

EyesWill Be Opened,op. cit.,p. 145-152,418-422.
4.

M. R. JAMES,«A New Text», op. cit.,p. 39-44,51-52.

12 R. BAUCKHAM a grave in accordance with the traditional Egyptian practice of providing the dead
12
R. BAUCKHAM
a grave in accordance with the traditional Egyptian practice of
providing the dead with a guide to what they will encounter after
death 6. The problem with the fragment of the Apocalypse of
Peter is
that it differs significantly in several ways from the
Ethiopic
version. But some of its important differences from the
Ethiopic version are at points where the patristic quotations and
the Bodleian fragment confirm the originality of the form of the
text in the Ethiopic
version7. So it has now come to
be universally
accepted by those who have examined the issue carefully that
the Akhmim fragment is a deliberately edited form of material
from the Greek Apocalypse of Pete!: It may not even be, as such,
a fragment of the Apocalypse of Peter itself: it may well be a
fragment of another work which utilized the Apocalypse of Peter
as a source. There is
still a caseto be made for the view of some
earlier scholars that it is actually another section of the Gospel
of Peter 8. In any case, although it may sometimes help us to
clear up an obscurity in the Ethiopic version of the Apocalypse
of Peter, it
must be used with
great caution in studying the
Apocalypse
of Pete!: Priority
must be given to the Ethiopic
version.
3. Outline and Summary of the Apocalypse ofPeter.
3. Outline and Summary of the Apocalypse ofPeter.
The Apocalypse of Peter can be divided into three main sec- tions, whose contents can be
The Apocalypse of Peter can be divided into three main sec-
tions, whose contents can be briefly
outlined as follows:
I. Discourseon the Signs and Time of the Parousia. 1:1-3 The disciples' enquiry. 1:4-8 The parousia
I.
Discourseon the Signs and Time of the Parousia.
1:1-3
The disciples' enquiry.
1:4-8
The parousia will be unmistakable.
2
The parable of the fig tree: the false Messiah and
the martyrs of the last days.
II. Vision of the Judgment and its Explanation.
3
Picture of the judgment and Peter's distress.
4
The resurrection.
S
The
cosmic conflagration.
6:1-6
The last judgment.
6.
M. TARDIEU,«Arda Viraz Narnag et l'eschatologie grecque », Studia
lranica 14 (1985),p. 20.
7.
Seereferences in n. 3 above.
8.
See R. BAUCKHAM,«The Apocalypse
of Peter:
An Account of
Research», op. cit., p. 4719-4720.
APOCALYP$ OF PETER 13 6:7-9 The judgment of the evil spirits. 7-12 The punishments in hell.
APOCALYP$
OF PETER
13
6:7-9
The judgment of the evil spirits.
7-12
The punishments in hell.
13
The
punishments confirmed asjust.
14:1
The prayers of the elect savesome.
14:2-3
The
elect inherit the promises.
14:4-6
Peter's earthly future.
III. Visionsof the Reward of the Righteous.
15
Vision
of
Moses and Elijah.
16:1-6
Vision
of Paradise.
16:7-17:1 Vision of the true T~mple and Audition about the
true Messiah.
17:2-7
The ascension.
For readers coming fresh to the Apocalypse of Peter, a fuller
summary of its contents may be helpful.
I. Discourse on the Signsand Time of the Parousia (chapters1-2): [Although it is not made clear
I.
Discourse on the Signsand Time of the Parousia
(chapters1-2):
[Although it is not made clear by the opening of the work, the
events take place after Jesus' resurrection.] Jesus and his
disciples are on the Mount of Olives. They ask him about the
signs and the time of his parousia and the end of the world. Jesus
warns them not to
believe the false claimants to messiahshipwho
will come. His own coming to judgment will be in unmistakable
glory. In order to indicate the time of the end, Jesusgives them the
parable of the fig tree: when its shoots become tender, the end
of the world will come. When Peter asks for explanation, Jesus
tells another parable of a fig tree: the barren fig tree which will
be uprooted unless it bears fruit. The fig tree in both parables is
Israel. The sprouting of the fig tree will take place when a false
messiaharises and Israel follows him. When they reject him, he
will
put many to death. They will be martyrs. Enoch and Elijah
will show them that he is not the true messiah.
II. Vision of the Judgment and its Explanation (chapters3-14) .. Jesusshows Peter a vision of the
II. Vision of the Judgment and its Explanation (chapters3-14) ..
Jesusshows Peter a vision of the judgment of all people at the
last day. Peter is distressed at the fate of sinners, but his claim
that it would have been better for them not to have been created
is rejected by Jesus, who promises to show
Peter the sinners'
deeds (in order to enable him to appreciate the justice of their
condemnation).
A long prophecy (by Jesus)of the judgment of sinners follows.
It begins with an account of the resurrection, which must take
14 BAUCKHAM place so that all humanity may appear before God on the day of judgment.
14
BAUCKHAM
place so that all humanity may appear before God on the day of
judgment.
God's word will reclaim all the dead, becausefor God
nothing is
impossible. Then will follow the cosmic conflagration,
in which a flood of fire will consumethe heavensand the sea and
drive all people to judgment in the river of fire. Then Jesus
Christ will come and be enthroned and crowned as judge. All
will be judged according to their deeds, which will appear in
order to accuse the wicked. The river of fire through which all
must pass will prove their innocence or guilt. The angels will
take the wicked to hell. The demons will also be
brought to
judgment and condemned to eternal punishment.
There follows a long description of the punishments in hell. A
specific, different punishment is described for eachof twenty-one
types of sinner. The types of sinner and their punishments are:
1) those who blasphemed the way of righteousness-hung by tongues; 2) those who denied justice -pit
1) those who blasphemed the way of righteousness-hung by
tongues;
2)
those who denied justice -pit of fire;
3)
women who enticed men to adultery -hung
by necks;
4)
adulterers -hung by genitals;
5)
murderers -poisonous animals and worms;
6)
women who aborted their children -in a pit of excrement
up to the throat;
7)
infanticides -their
milk produces flesh-eatinganimals;
8)
persecutors and betrayers of Christ's righteous ones ~
scourged and eaten by unsleepingworm;
9)
those who perverted and betrayed Christ's righteousness~
bite tongues, hot irons in eyes;
10) those who put the martyrs to death with their lies -lips
cut
off, fire in mouth and entrails;
11) those who trusted in their riches and neglected the poor-
fiery sharp column, clothed in rags;
12) usurers -in
pit of excrement up to the knees;
13) male and female practising homosexuals-fall
from precip-
ice repeatedly;
14) makers of idols -scourged
by chains of fire;
15)
those who forsook God's commandmnts and obeyed demons
-burning
in flames;
16) those who did not honour, their parents
-roll down fiery
precipice repeatedly;
17) those who disobeyed the teaching of their fathers and elders
-hung
and attacked by flesh-eatingbirds;
18) girls who had sex before marriage -dark clothes, flesh
dissolved;
19)
disobedient slaves-bite
tongues continuously;

R.

15 APOCALYP$OFPETER 20) those who gave alms hypocritically -blind and deaf, coals of fire; 21) male
15
APOCALYP$OFPETER
20) those who gave alms hypocritically -blind and deaf, coals
of fire;
21) male and female sorcerers-: on wheel of fire in the river of
fire.
The elect will be shown the p*ishments of the damned. The
latter cry for mercy, but the angel in charge of hell,
Tartarouchos, tells them it is now too late for repentance. The
damned acknowledge the
justice of their punishment. But when
the righteous intercede for
the daqrned,Jesus Christ the judge will
grant their prayers. Those for w~om they pray will be baptised
in the Acherusian lake and will Jshare the destiny of the elect.
The elect will enter Jesus Chri t's eternal kingdom, with the
patriarchs, and his promises to them will be fulfilled.
Concluding the prophecy of judgment, Jesus now addresses
Peter personally about his future. He is to spread the Gospel
through the whole world. He is tq go to Rome, where he will die
a martyr « at the hands of the soq of the one who is in Hades »9.
III. Visions of the Reward of t~e Righteous (chapters15-17).- Jesusand the disciples go to «the holy
III.
Visions of the Reward of t~e Righteous (chapters15-17).-
Jesusand the disciples go to «the holy mountain », where the
disciples are granted five revela~ons. The first is of Moses and
Elijah,
appearing in resplende t beauty as heavenly beings.
When Peter asks where the othe patriarchs are, they are shown
the heavenly paradise. Jesus says that this
destiny of the
patriarchs is also to be that of those who are persecuted for his
righteousness. When Peter offers to construct three tents for Jesus, Moses
and Elijah, he is severely rebuked by Jesus, but promised a
vision and an audition (the third and fourth of the five revela-
tions) to enlighten him. The v~sion is of the tent which the
Father has made for Jesus and the elect. The audition is of a
voice from heaven declaring Jesu~to be God's beloved Son who
should be obeyed. Finally, the di$ciples witness the ascensionof
Jesus, with Moses and Elijah, through the heavens. Jesus takes
with him «people in the flesh ». The disciples descend
the
mountain, glorifying God, who has written the names of the
righteous in the book of life in heaven.
9. Quotations from the APocalYP ~ of Peter (Ethiopic version) are based on a preliminary English
9. Quotations from the APocalYP ~ of Peter
(Ethiopic
version)
are
based
on
a
preliminary
English
tra
slation
by
Paolo
Marrassini,
from
his edition of the Ethiopic
text. Thi
edition and an improved English
translation will appear in the Cor us Christiano rum Series Apocry-
phorum volume on the Apocalypse 0 Peter.
16 R. BAUCKHAM I. THE LITERARY AND mSTORICAL CONTEXTS 1. Literary Context. We cannot be sure
16
R. BAUCKHAM
I. THE LITERARY AND mSTORICAL CONTEXTS
1.
Literary Context.
We cannot be sure whether the title Apocalypse of Peter is
original. It does not occur in the Ethiopic version, which has a
lengthy title or prologue which certainly does not belong to the
original
text. But the title Apocalypse of Peter is already used by
the Muratorian Canon and by Clement of Alezandria, and so it
may well be original. It is true that many of the works which now
bear the title Apocalypse came to be so called only at a later
date (quite apart from those which have been so called only by
modern scholars), but the period in which the Apocalypse of
Peter must have been written -the early second century C.E.
-is one in which it is plausible to hold that the
term &no1(l1-
AU'l'1.~could be being used as the description of a literary work
containing the account of a revelation given by a supernatural
being to a prophet or visionary.
But whether or not its title is original, the Apocalypse of Peter
certainly belongs to that
rather broad genre of ancient literature
which we call apocalypses.Indeed, its date -in the early second
century C.E. -places it in a golden age, perhaps the golden age
of Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature. The period bet-
ween the two great Jewish revolts (between 70 and 132 C.E.)
produced the greatest of all the Jewish and Christian apoca-
lypses: the Book of Revelation,4 Ezra and 2 Baruch -works in
which the genre of apocalyptic becamethe vehicle for truly great
literature and truly profound theology. A considerable number
of other extant Jewish and Christian apocalypsesalso date from
the late first and early second centuries: the Apocalypse of
Abraham, the Ladder of Jacob, the Ascension of Isaiah, the
Greek Apocalypse of Baruch (3 Baruch), the Shepherd of
Hermas, and quite probably also the Parables of Enoch, the
Slavonic Apocalypse of Enoch (2 Enoch), and so-called 5 Ezra.
It is hard to be sure whether thi& period really was exceptionally
productive of apocalypses,or whether that impression is due to
the accidentsof survival. There certainly were more Jewish apoc-
alypses in earlier periods, such as the early first century C.E.,
than have survived, and it is always very important to remember
that all extant ancient Jewish apocalypses,with the exception of
Daniel and the apocalyptic works found at Qumran, have been
preserve.d by Christians. Many which were not congenial to
Christian use may not have survived. With due allowance for
these factors, however, it does seemprobable that the writing of
APOCALYP~E OF PETER 17 apocalypsesespecially flourished in the period from 70 C.E. to about the middle
APOCALYP~E
OF PETER
17
apocalypsesespecially flourished in the period
from 70 C.E. to
about the middle of the secon
century. The reasons will be
partly that the destruction of erusalem and the temple in
70 C.E. posed for Judaism issu s of theodicy and eschatology
which were most
suitably wres led with
or answered in the
literary genre of apocalypse, a d partly
that much of early
Christianity remained during this eriod a strongly eschatological
religious movement which theref re found
one of its most natural
forms of expression in the apoc lypse. I do not make the mis-
take of considering eschatologyt e sole content of apocalypses1°,
but most of the apocalypsesI h ve mentioned do in fact focus
especially on matters of eschatol gy, as the Apocalypse of Peter
also does. Of course, during t e same period
-the
second
century -the genre apocalypse was also adopted and adapted
by Christian Gnostics as a vehi Ie for the kind of revelations
they wished to present.
The Apocalypse of Peterhas so e close links, by way of themes
and traditions, with some of the J wish apocalypsesof its period:
4
Ezra, 2 Baruch, the Parables0 Enoch. If, as I shall argue, the
Apocalypse of Peter is a Palestini
n Jewish Christian work, these
links with contemporary Palestini
n Jewishapocalypses are espe-
cially interesting. They help to e plain the preservation of these
Jewish works by Christians, b
showing us the context of
Palestinian Jewish Christian apo alyptic in which these Jewish
apocalypseswould have been of i terest. It was doubtless in such
Christian circles as those from hich the Apocalypse of Peter
comes that Jewishapocalypses such as 4 Ezra were read and then
passedon to the wider
church whi
h later preservedthem.
That there
is actual literary de
endence by the Apocalypse of
Peter on any
extant Jewish apoc ypse is much less certain. The
links which exist are explicable as common apocalyptic tradition,
current in Jewish and Christia apocalyptic circles of that
period. It is an important genera feature of the apocalypsesof
this period that they are all de
ndent on blocks of traditional
apocalyptic material 11.The mor
one studies the way the same
traditions reappear in various apocalypses,the more it becomes
impossible to suppose that literary borrowing from one apoca-
lypse to another can fully explai~ the recurrence of traditional
10. This mistake has been correcte \ especially by C. ROWLAND,The
Open Heaven(London: SPCK, 1982)
11. Cf., e.g., M. E. STONE,Fourth
zra (Hermeneia;
Minneapolis:
Fortress Press, 1990),p. 21-22, on suqhblocks of traditional material in
4 Ezra.
I
18 BAUCKHAM material. Apocalyptic traditions must have existeq in some form, oral or written, independently of
18
BAUCKHAM
material. Apocalyptic traditions must have existeq in
some form,
oral or written, independently of the apocalypsesin which such
traditions are now incorporated. (Of course, such traditional
material is also sometimes preserved in works which are not
apocalypses,such as the Biblical Antiquities of Pseudo-Philo or
the letters of Paul.) We do not know the sociological context in
which these apocalyptic traditions were handed on, whether as
oral traditions in circles of apocalyptists or as written notes
passed between learned individuals. But certainly what passed
from one apocalyptist to another was not just ideas, but blocks
of tradition.
Every apocalypseis therefore a mixture of tradition and origin-
ality. The truly great apocalypses-Revelation and 4 Ezra, for
example -are works of remarkable creativity, in both literary
and theological terms. The traditional material they certainly
incorporate is used in highly creative ways. In these works the
use of tradition is consistent with considerable originality and
with very carefully studied composition. In other cases,traditional
material has been put together by a much less gifted writer and a
much less profound thinker. In one sense, the Apocalypse of
Peter is one of the least original of the apocalypses.Blocks of
traditional material seem to be incorporated often more or less
as they stand. Virtually all the contents of the Apocalypse of
Peter probably already existed in some form, some as Gospel
traditions, most as Jewish apocalyptic traditions. Probably no
passageof more than a few verses was freely composed by the
author. But this does not mean that the author is a mere compil-
er of traditions. The combination and redaction of his material
has been done with a certain real skill. His creative redactional
activity has made of the traditional material he used a particular
whole with a coherent message.While the Apocalypseof Peter is
not a great example of the genre, while its literary and theological
merit is small, it is neverthelessa literary work in its own right. If
we are to appreciate what it meant to its contemporaries and
later readers, we must study its traditional components not only
as blocks
of tradition, but as they relate to each other in this
particular literary whole.
So the Apocalypse of Peter turns out to have a double interest.
Becauseof its very conservative preservation of apocalyptic trad-
itions, it is actually a source of knowledge of Jewish apocalyptic
traditions. It has rarely been treated in this way, becauseof the
artificial distinction which is prevalent between the apocalypses
which belong to the so-called Old
Testament Pseudepigrapha
and those which belong to the so-called New Testament
Apocrypha. So far as apocalypses go, this distinction between

R.

APOCALYP~E OF PETER 19 Old Testament Pseudepigrapha dnd New Testament Apocrypha is wholly artificial. The Christian
APOCALYP~E
OF PETER
19
Old
Testament
Pseudepigrapha
dnd
New
Testament
Apocrypha
is
wholly
artificial.
The
Christian
tradition
of
writing
apocalypses
was
almost
entirely
continuous
with
the
Jewish
tradition.
In
the
second
century,
as
I
have
indicated,
even
Jewish
apocalypses
recently
written
were
read
an
imitated
by
Christians.
The
Jewish
and
Christian
apocalypse
of
the
period
must
be
studied
together.
Moreover,
there
is
0
useful
distinction
between
Christian
apocalypses
written
un
er
the
name
of
Old
Testament
figures
such
as
Ezra
and
those
ritten
under
the
name
of
New
Testament
figures
such
as
Peter
The
latter
are
no
less
closely
related
to
Jewish
apocalypses
tha
are
the
former.
So
the
Apocalypse
of
Peter
is
of
interest
for
its
preservation
of
those
apocalyptic
traditions
which
were
common
to
Christian
and
non~Christian
Jews
of
the
period.
But
it
is
also
of
interest
as
a
work
in
its
own
right,
with
a
me
sage
of
its
own.
As
such,
it
was
no
doubt
read
mostly
by
Chris
ians,
though
it
may
also
have
functioned
as
missionary
literat
re
used
by
Christian
Jews
in
their
mission
to
non-Christian
J
ws.
In
any
case,
it
reached
not
only
its
immediate
readership
0
Jewish
Christians
but
a
wide
Christian
readership
througho
t
the
church
for
a
century
or
more
after
it
was
written.
Some
hing
about
it
evidently
proved
popular
and
relevant.
One
important
literary
feature
does
distinguish
the
Apocalypse
of
Peter
as
a
Christi
n
apocalypse
from
the
Jewish
apocalypses
to
which
it
is
closely
akin.
It
is
a
revelation
of
Jesus
Christ
to
the
apostle
Peter.
In
eing
pseudonymous,
it
differs
from
the
Johannine
Apocalypse
and
the
Shepherd
of
Hermas,
whose
authors
broke
with
Jewi
h
apocalyptic
tradition
by
not
hiding
behind
an
ancient
pseud
nym
but
writing
in
their
own
names
as
recipients
of
revelation
as
Christian
prophets.
But
like
those
Christian
apocalypses,
it
's
a
revelation
given
by
Jesus
Christ.
The
Apocalypse
of
Peter
is
probably
the
earliest
extant
Christian
apocalypse
which
use
an
apostolic
pseudonym.
The
difference
which
this
makes
to
its
.terary
form
is
that
the
narrative
framework
-which
most
apoca
ypses
have
-is
in
this
case
a
Gospel
narrative
framework.
disciples
on
the
mount
of
Olive;
f
itbegins
ends
withwith
Jesus'
Jesus
ascension
and
the
to
heaven.
The
revelation
is
thus
placed
within
the
Gospel
story
of
Jesus,
specifically
within
the
pe
iod
of
the
resurrection
appear-
ances.
It
purports
in
fact
to
ecord
Jesus'
final
revelatory~
U.
On this point, see R. BAUCKH f
'
«The
Apocalypses
in
the
New
Pseudepigrapha
», Journal
for
the
St
y
of the New
Testament
26 (1986),
p.105-106,111-113.
,
20 R. BAUCKHAM teaching to his disciples prior to his departure to heaven. In a sense
20
R. BAUCKHAM
teaching to his disciples prior to his departure to heaven. In a
sense this
gives it the character of
a testament of Jesus, but it
would be a mistake to make too much of this testamentary
character of the Apocalypse of Peter: apart from revelation of
the future, it shares none of the standard features of the Jewish
testament literature. It is better to think of it as an apocalypse
set at the end of the Gospel story of Jesus.
As an apocalypse set at the end of the Gospel
story of Jesus,
the Apocalypse of Peter is an example of a genre of Christian
apocalypses which
seems to have become very popular in the
second and third centuries: the revelatory discourse of Jesusto
one or more disciples or the revelatory dialogue of Jesus with
the disciples after the resurrection. Like the Apocalypse of Peter,
such works are often set on
the mount of Olives or some other
mountain 13; they often end
with an account of the ascension14.
Unlike the Apocalypse of Peter they usually begin with an
account of the risen Jesus' appearance to the disciples; in this
respect, the Apocalypse of Peter is rather peculiar. The way it
does open makes it unlikely that an account of an appearanceof
Jesus has been lost at the beginning, but means that there is
actually no way of knowing that the scene is set after the resur-
rection until one reaches the account of Jesus' ascensionat the
end of the work.
The
genre of the post-resurrection revelatory dialogue is often
thought of as a Gnostic literary geme. It did indeed become very
popular with the Gnostics. But it did not originate with them.
Non-Gnostic examplesof the geme -such as the Apocalypseof
Peter, the Epistle of the Apostles,the Testamentof our Lord and
the Questionsof Bartholomew -are not imitations of the Gnostic
use of the geme. They show that the geme itself originated before
Gnostics adopted it. Those who wished to attribute to Jesus
Christ further revelations additional to those known from the
Gospel traditions evidently found it appropriate to place such
revelations in the period of the resurrection appearances.This
was because these additional revelations presupposed the
teaching of Jesus already given in the Gospel traditions. They
interpreted and developed the teaching of Jesusthat was already
13. lApJas (CG V,3) 30:18-31:2; EpPetPhil (CG VIII,2) 133:14-17; SophJesChr (CG 111,4) 90:14-20 (ct. 91:18-20); Pistis
13. lApJas (CG V,3) 30:18-31:2; EpPetPhil (CG VIII,2) 133:14-17;
SophJesChr (CG 111,4) 90:14-20 (ct. 91:18-20); Pistis Sophia;
QuestBarth4:1; ApPaul (Coptic conclusion); HistJos 1.
14. ApocrJas
(CG
1,2) 15:5-16:2;
EpApp 51;
Testament of our
Lord 2:27; ct. SophJesChr(CG 111.4)119:10.
APOCALYPrSE OF PETER 21 known. They often refer back tio the teaching Jesus had given before
APOCALYPrSE OF PETER
21
known.
They
often
refer
back
tio
the
teaching
Jesus
had
given
before
his
death
and
offer
furth~r
explanation
of
what
Jesus
had
meant
or
further
information
pn
subjects
that
Jesus'
earlier
teaching
had
not
sufficiently
covered.
Such
further
revelation
may
be
eschatological,
as
it
is
ih
the
Apocalypse
of
Peter,
in
a
large
part
of
the
Epistle
of
the
Apostles,
and
in
the
oldest,
apoca-
lyptic
part
of
the
Testament
of
our
Lord.
The
Gnostics
then
found
this
genre
the
obvious
literary
vehicle
for
conveying
the
esoteric,
In
the
Apocalypse
Gnostic
meaning
of
Peter
of
Jes
th ;
res'
teaching.
is
one
very
explicit
reference
back
to
the
earlier
teaching
of
esus
in
the
Gospel
traditions,
whose
full
meaning
is
now
revealed
to
Peter
by
further
revela-
tion.
This
is
in
16:5-6.
Jesus
has
given
Peter
a
vision
of
paradise,
which
is
said
to
be
a
revelation
of
«the
honour
and
glory
of
those
who
are
persecuted
for
my
righteousness»
(16:5).
Peter
comments:
«Then
I
understood
that
which
is
written
in
the
scripture
of
our
Lord
Jesus
Chri
t
».
The
reference
is
certainly
to
Matthew's
Gospel,
evidently
the
only
written
Gospel
the
author
of
the
Apocalypse
of
Peter
us
d
15,
and
to
the
beatitude
in
Matthew
5:10:
«Blessed
are
hose
who
are
persecuted
for
righteousness'
sake,
for
theirs
i
the
kingdom
of
heaven
».
The
Matthean
saying,
and
the
subs
quent
reference
to
reward
in
heaven,
leaves
the
nature
of
the
heavenly
reward
undeveloped.
The
apocalyptic
revelation
of
par
dise
in
the
Apocalypse
of
Peter,
precisely
the
kind
of
apocalyp
ic
revelation
which
is
notably
absent
from
the
Gospel
traditio
s,
is
thought
by
the
author
of
the
Apocalypse
of
Peter
to
be
n
eded
to
fill
out
the
mere
hints
given
in
the
pre-resurrection
tea
hing
of
Jesus.
We
should
understand
the
wa
the
Apocalypse
of
Peter
begins
in
a
rather
similar
way:
«As
he
was
sitting
on
t
e
Mount
of
Olives,
his
own
« approached
him.
We
bowed
own
and
begged
him
privately
«
and
asked
him,
saying,
"Tell
s,
what
will
be
the
signs
of
your
«
coming
and
of
the
end
of
the
orld?
-so
that
we
may
know
«and
understand
the
time
of
our
coming,
and
instruct
those
«who
will
come
after
us,
thos
to
whom
we
shall
preach
the
«word
of
your
Gospel
and
w
om
we
shall
put
in
charge
of
«
your
church,
so
that
they
too
ay
hear
and
apply
themselves
«to
understand
the
time
of
you
coming"»
(ApPet
1:1-3).
22 R. BAUCKHAM Ostensibly this does little more than reproduce, with a little expansion and adaptation,
22
R. BAUCKHAM
Ostensibly this does little more than reproduce, with a little
expansion and adaptation, the opening of the eschatological
discourse of Jesusin Matthew 24. But the author is not intending
to give, as it were, a version of that eschatological discourse,
moving it from its Matthean place before the resurrection to a
post-resurrection setting. Rather he is intending to represent
Jesus, in response to the disciples' questions, as taking up the
same subject again and this time going into much more
detail on
many aspects of the eschatologicalevents. The whole
of Jesus'
discourse, which continues to chapter 14, is intended to develop
what is undeveloped and to add what is lacking in the Matthean
eschatologicaldiscourse. The way in which this is done, of course,
is by resort to Jewish apocalyptic traditions.
Just as the eschatologicaldiscourse of Jesusin
chapters 1-14is
not a version of the Matthean eschatological discourse, but
another post-resurrection eschatological discourse, intended to
supplement the first, so the narrative of chapters 15-17, which is
modelled on the Matthean account of the transfiguration of
Jesusshould not be mistaken for a version of the transfiguration
narrative 16.It gives no support to the idea that the transfiguration
was originally a post-resurrection tradition, transferred in our
Synoptic Gospels into the ministry of Jesus. Chapters 15-17 of
the Apocalypse of Peter actually do not describe a transfigura-
tion of Jesus at all. It is
the glorious appearance of Moses and
Elijah which is featured, not the glory of Jesus.The point is that
the author is simply using material from the transfiguration
narrative in order to develop a new account of an apocalyptic
revelation of the glorious destiny of the elect. He saw in
the Matthean transfiguration narrative hints which could be
developed further in a post-resurrection setting. Again he draws
on Jewish apocalyptic traditions in order
to develop them.
In summary we can say that the Apocalypse of Peter is a revel-
ation by the risen Christ to Peter and the disciples, set within
a post-resurrection Gospel narrative framework. It borrows
materials from the Gospel traditions which were especially sus-
ceptible to development in an apocalyptic direction. It develops
them by means of Jewish apocalyptic traditions, which form the
greater part of its content.
16. Ct. ibid., p. 4735-4736.
16. Ct. ibid., p. 4735-4736.
APOCALYPfSE OF PETER 23 Apocalypse of Peter 1-2 Matthew 24 1 1As he was sitting on
APOCALYPfSE OF PETER
23
Apocalypse of Peter 1-2
Matthew 24
1 1As he was sitting
on the
3When he was sitting on the
Mount of Olives,
Mount of Olives,
his own approached him.
We
the disciples came to him,
bowed down and begged him
privately
2 and asked him,
privately, saying, «Tell us,
saying, «Tell us, what will be
when will this be, and what
the signs of your coming and
will
be
the
sign
of
your
of the end of the world?
-
coming and of the end of the
so that we may know and
age?»
understand the time of your
coming, and instruct those
who
will
come
after
us,
3 those to whom we shall
preach the word
of
your
Gospel and whom we shall
put in charge of your church,
so that they too may hear
and apply themselves to
understand the time of your
coming ». 4Our
Lord answer-
4Jesus answered them,
ed us, saying to
us, «Be care-
«Beware
ful not to be led into error,
that noone leads you astray.
not to become doubtful and
not to worship other gods.
5 Many will come in my
5 For many will
come in my
name, saying that they are
name, saying, "1
am
the
the Messiah.
Messiah !" ( ) ...
Do not believe them, and do
23,26(
...
)do
not believe it
(
...
)
not approach them, 6becau-
se, as for the coming of the
27For as the lightning comes
Son of God, it will [not] be
from the
east and flashes as
recognized, but like a bolt of
far as the west, so will be the
lightning which is visible
coming of the
Son of man.
from the east to the west, so
30b(
)
and they will see the
shall I come
Son of
man coming
on a cloud of heaven, with
on the
clouds of heaven with
great power in my glory, with
power
and
great
glory.
my cross going before me.
30aThen the sign of the Son
7 I
shall come
in
my glory,
of man will appear in heaven
shining seven times more
(
...
)
brightly than the sun. I shall
[16 27For the Son of man is
come in my glory with all my
to come with
his angels in
holy angels, when my Father
the glory of his Father,
24 BAUCKHAM sets a crown on my head, so that I may judge the living and
24
BAUCKHAM
sets a crown on my head, so
that
I
may judge the living
and the dead, 8and so that I
and then he will repay every-
may repay everyone accor-
one
for what has been done.]
ding to his deeds.
21 As for you, learn from the
32From the fig tree learn its
fig tree its parable. As soon
lesson: as soon as its branch
as its shoots have sprouted
becomes tender and puts
and its twigs have become
forth its leaves,
tender,
at that time
will
be
you know that summer is
the end of the world.
near.
7 (
)
Indeed, I have said to
you,
"when
its
twigs have
becoI;ne tender", [meaning
that] in the last time false
24 For
false messiahs and
Messiahs will come, 8 and
false prophets will appear
they will promise, "I am the
(
)
5 saying,
"I
am the
Messiah, who have come into
Messiah!"
the world".
(
...
)
(
...
)
11 (
)
Many
will
die
and
there
will
be
martyrs,
12
because Enoch and Elijah
will
be
sent to
make them
understand
that
he
is
the
impostor who is to come into
the world and who will per-
24 (
)
and produce
great
form signs and wonders in
signs and
omens, to
lead
order to deceive. »
astray, if possible, even the
elect. »
2. HistoricalContext
It is unusual to be able to give a precise date and place of ori-
gin for an ancient apocalypse,but
I think that in the case of the
Apocalypse of Peter we can do so with considerable confidence.
In this section I shall argue that the Apocalypse of Peter can be
dated during the Bar Kokhba war, i.e. during the years 132-135
C.E., and that it was written in Palestine, deriving from
the
Jewish Christian churches. If this is correct, it makes the
Apocalypse of Peter a very significant document for the history
of Palestinian Jewish Christianity. It is
perhaps the only work of

R.

APOCALYPSEOF PETER

25

second-century Palestinian Jewish Christianity which survives in its complete and original form.

The

argument

for

the

date

and

place

of

the

Apocalypse

concerns especially the first two chapters and the last two chapters

of the

work

17. In chapters

1-2 the

author

has adapted

and

expanded parts of the Synoptic apocalyptic discourse as found in Matthew 24. The wording of the Apocalypse of Peter in these

chapters is in several places very close to the specifically

Matthean

redaction

of the Synoptic

apocalyptic

discourse, and

so we

can be sure

that

the author

knew the

text

of

Matthew

24

itself. But he has used Matthew 24 very selectively:

he has in

fact

drawn on only eight verses of that chapter -or, to put

it

an-

other

way, he has used

only

two

sections of Matthew

24:

v. 3-5

and v. 24-32. To these borrowings

from Matthew 24 he has added

additional

traditional

material

from

other

sources in order

to

develop those themes in Matthew 24 in which he was interested.

So by observing

his selection

and expansion

of material

from

Matthew

24 we

can see how his apocalyptic

expectations

were

focussed.

As

we shall see, they are focussed,

in these

first

two

chapters of the Apocalypse, on just two themes.

 

The

first

three

verses

of

the

Apocalypse

 

of

Peter are

the

disciples'

question,

to which

the

rest of the

first two

chapters are

Jesus' response:

 
 

«As

he

was

sitting

on

the

Mount

of

Olives,

his own

« approached

him. We bowed

down and begged him privately

« and asked him, saying, "Tell

us, what

will

be the signs of

your

« coming

and of the end of the world?

-so

that we may know

« and understand

the time

of your coming,

and instruct

those

«who

will

come

after

us, those

to

whom

we

shall preach the

«word

of

your

Gospel

and whom

we shall

put

in charge

of

« your church, so that they too may hear and apply themselves

«to understand the time of your coming"»

(ApPet 1:1-3).

 

The setting and question

follow

closely Matthew 24:3, except

that

in the Apocalypse

the disciples

ask about

the time

of

the

parousia,

not simply so that they themselves should understand

it, but also so that their successors should understand

it. Clearly

the

author

writes

in a post-apostolic

period:

 

the generation

of

the

apostles has passed and it is now a subsequent generation

17. Most of the following argument so far as it concerns chapters 1-2 was presented in more detail in R. BAUCKHAM,«The Two Fig Tree Parables in the Apocalypse of Peter », Journal of Biblical Literature 104 (1985), p. 269-287.

26 R. BAUCKHAM which needs to be able to recognize the signs that the parousia is
26
R. BAUCKHAM
which needs to be able to recognize the
signs that the parousia is
imminent. Moreover, whereas Matthew refers to the time of thb
destruction of Jerusalemand the temple, as well as to the time of
the parousia, in the Apocalypseof Peter it is only the time of the
parousia that is of interest. Evidently
the author lives after
C.E.
70, and he is
not interested in providing post eventum
prophecies of events, such as the fall of Jerusalem,which lay bet-
ween the time of Jesus,the supposeddate of the prophecy,and his
own time. He is interested only in his readers' immediate situation
and the events which he believes to lie in their immediate futur~.
The rest of the material he derives from Matthew 24 readily
falls into three categories:
a) There is the warning about false Messiahs, This subje t occurs twice in the apocalyptic
a)
There is the warning about false Messiahs, This subje t
occurs twice in the apocalyptic discourse in Matthew 24:3-
(where it is the opening subject of the discourse) and 24:23-2
(where the subject recurs immediately before the description f
the parousia itself). The author of the Apocalypse of Peter h
drawn on both these passagesand ignored everything that com
in between them in Matthew, He has therefore rightly identifie
a major theme of
the Matthean
discourse,and he has also, as we
shall see, rightly understood the
way this theme of false Messiahs
is connected in Matthew 24 with the parousia. But as far as
Matthew's account of the events that will precede the parousia is
concerned, he has selected only this one theme, It must have
been the prominence of this theme in Matthew 24 which drew
him to this chapter and led him to make it the basis of the open-
ing of his Apocalypse. The
theme of the false Messiahs and the
warning against being led astray by these imposters who mak
deceptive claims is one of his main interests.
But there are two further, very important points about th
way he uses this
material from Matthew 24, which we can see 'f
we look closely at the texts in the Apocalypse of Peter, Th
words of Jesus in the Apocalypse of Peter, as in Matthew 2 ,
begin with this theme:
« Our Lord answeredus, sayingto us, "Be careful not to b
«led into error, not to become doubtful
and not to worshi
« other gods. Many will come in my name, saying that they ar
«the Messiah. Do not believe them, and do not approac
«them"» (ApPet 1:4-5).
But he then returns to the theme in 2:7-8:
« (
)
false Messiahs will come, and they will promise, "~
am the Messiah, who have come into the world" (
)
»
I

APOCALYPSEOF PETER

27

 

And

again towards

the end of chapter

2 :

 
 

«Enoch

and Elijah

will

be sent to make them understand

 

«that

he

is the

impostor

who

is to

come

into

the world

and

«who

will

 

perform

signs and wonders

in order

to deceive.»

«(ApPet

2:12:

the

reference

to

the

deceptive

signs

and

«wonders

there is taken from Matthew 24:24.)

In those passages the

false messianic

claim

and

the

false

Messiah's potential

to deceive, of which Christians

must beware,

derive

from

Matthew 24. But we should notice,

first,

that

whereas Matthew

24:24 speaks

of

false

Messiahs

and false

prophets ('i'Eu86XP1CJ'tOlKat 'i'Eu80npo<pfl'tal), the Apocalypse of

Peter speaks only of false Messiahs. The author is not interested

in people who claimed to be the eschatological prophet,

but only

in those who claimed

notice

also, secondly,

that whereas

Matthew

to be Messiah. But, speaks throughout

of false Messiahs,

in

the plural,

the Apocalypse

of Peter, while

it begins by following

Matthew in this respect and warning against many false

Messiahs (1:5), goes on in chapter 2 to focus on a single messian-

ic pretender.

In

the

Ethiopic

text

as it

stands

the transition

is

very awkward and abrupt:

the

end

of

2:7 speaks

of

false

Messiahs, in the plural,

but 2:8 speaks of

«his

evil deeds », and

although

verse

9 is

very

obscure,

from verse 10 onwards

it

is

quite

clear

that

only

one

false

messianic

claimant

is

being

spoken of.

It

may be that

the

text of v. 7 should be corrected

to

refer to only a single false Messiah.

But

even if we accept such an

emendation of the text, there is a transition

from the several false

Messiahs

of chapter

1 to

the

single

false Messiah

of

chapter 2.

Moreover in 2:12, the phrase which the author has borrowed from Matthew «<signs and wonders in order to deceive»:

Matt 24:24) applies

in Matthew

to the false Messiahs,

but

in the

Apocalypse of Peter has been applied to the single false Messiah.

 

It seems clear

that the

author

of the Apocalypse

of Peter is

interested

in Matthew's

predictions

of false Messiahs

mainly

because they provide

a startingpoint

from

which he can narrow

the focus

to

the

single

and last false Messiah,

who

is his

real

concern.

I

shall be

arguing

that this

is because at the time

of

writing

there

was a particular,

single

messianic

claimant

-by

whom the Apocalypse's readers were in danger of being misled.

However,

we should

not too easily jump to this conclusion.

The

expectation

 

of

a single

final

Antichrist

who would

deceive

people with his false claims and who would persecute the people

of

God, as the false Messiah

in chapter 2 of the Apocalypse

of

Peter does, was after all a common feature of much early

Christian

apocalyptic

expectation.

The

coming

of Enoch

and

28 R. BAUCKHAM Elijah to expose him as a deceiver (2:12) was probably also already a
28
R. BAUCKHAM
Elijah to expose him as a deceiver (2:12) was probably also
already a traditional apocalyptic feature 18.May not the author
simply be putting together Matthew 24's predictions of the false
Messiahs and other traditional material in which a single
Antichrist
was expected? No doubt, he is doing this. But we
still
need to explain why his interest in the events preceding the
parousia is so selective, so overwhelmingly focussed on the
figure of the false Messiah. That this is becausean actual messian-
ic claimant threatened the church of his time and place will
become clearer as we proceed.
b) The second of the three categories of material that our author has drawn from Matthew
b)
The second of the three categories of
material that our
author has drawn from Matthew 24 is the
prediction of the
manner of the parousia:
«As
for the coming of the Son of
God, it will
not be re-
«cognized, but like a bolt of
lightning which is visible from the
« east to the west, so shall I
come on a cloud of heaven, with
«great power in my glory, with my cross going before me. I
«shall come in
my glory, shining seven times more brightly
« than the sun. I shall come in my glory with all my holy angels,
«when
my Father sets a crown
on my
head, so that
I may
«judge the living and the dead» (ApPet 1:6-7).
Here the author depends on Matthew 24:27,30,and perhaps
also on Matthew
16:27, but
he
has both
selected from
the
Matthean depiction of the parousia and expanded it with other
traditional material. The elements here which do not come from
Matthew can all be shown to be very probably already tradi-
tional in Christian depiction of the parousia. Nothing here is ori-
ginal19, but the author has both selected from Matthew and
added from other apocalyptic tradition in order to make very
emphatically two points about the parousia. One is that Christ
will come with divine authority to exercise judgment: «When
my Father sets a crown on my
head, so that I may judge the
living and the dead, stet so that I may repay everyone according
to his deeds» (1:7b-8). This is the point
at which the author
18. See R. BAUCKHAM,« The Martyrdom of Enoch and Elijah: Jewish or Christian? », Journal of
18. See R. BAUCKHAM,« The Martyrdom of Enoch and Elijah: Jewish
or Christian? », Journal of Biblical Literature 95 (1976), p. 447-458;
K.
BERGER,Die Auferstehung des Propheten und die Erhohung des
Menschensohnes (SUNT 13; Gottingen:
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht,
1976) Part 1.
19. For the parallels, see R. BAUCKHAM,« The Two Fig Tree Parables »,
op. cit., p. 273-275; R. BAUCKHAM,Jude and the Relatives ofJesus in the
Early Church (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1990),p. 101-102.

APOCALYPSEOF PETER

29

introduces the central theme of the Apocalypse of Peter, which

will be expounded at length in chapters 3-14. But of more

immediate interest to us is the second point about the parousia :

that it will be unmistakably the parousia of Jesus Christ. This is

how the depiction of the parousia in v. 6 connects with the warn-

ing against false Messiahs in v. 5. The coming of the true

Messiah will be

evident to all people. The disciples should not be

deceived by the claims of the false Messiahs,because the coming

of the true Messiah will be unmistakable. This point the author

has taken from Matthew, who also places the saying about the

lightning immediately after the misleading claims about the false

Messiahs in order to make the point that the parousia, like the

lightning which flashes across the sky from east to west, will be

evident to all (24:27). Matthew contrasts this with the misleading

claim that the Messiah is out in the desert or is in the inner

rooms (24:26): the Apocalypse of Peter drops this point.

Evidently the false Messiah who concerns this author is not

gathering his followers in the desert (like some of the messianic

claimants before 70 C.E.) or hiding in secret in houses. But his

appearance can be easily distinguished from the unmistakable

character of the parousia of Jesus Christ, as expected in

Christian tradition.

As well as the simile of the lightning, the Apocalypse of Peter

labours the unmistakablenessof the parousia by emphasizingthe

glory of the coming Christ, of course a well-established tradition-

al aspectof the parousia. Three times Jesussays «I shall come in

my glory» (1:6-7), and this is reinforced, the first time, with «on

a cloud of heaven, with great power»; the second time, with

« shining seventimes more brightly than the sun »; the third time,

with «with all my holy angels». These details make the parousia

an unmistakably supernatural, transcendentoccurrence. But one

further detail makes it unmistakably the parousia of JesusChrist:

«my cross going before me» (1:6). This appearanceof the cross

at the parousia -perhaps an interpretation of Matthew's «sign

of the Son of man» (24:30), certainly a stock feature of early

Christian expectation (EpApp 16; ApElijah 3:2; SibOr 6:26-28;

Hippolytus, In

Matt. 24:30; cf. Did 16:6)-serves here to make it

clear that, by contrast to any other messianic claim, the only

appearance of the Messiah which Christians can expect is un-

mistakably the

coming of Jesus,the crucified, in glory. So we

can

see that the author's depiction of the manner of the parousia is

very closely connected with his interest in the figure of the false

Messiah. It is designed to counter the false Messiah'spotential to

deceive those of the Apocalypse's readers who were evidently

tempted to accepthis claim to messianicstatus.

30 R. BAUCKHAM c) The third andfinal category of material which the author has taken from
30
R. BAUCKHAM
c)
The third andfinal category of material which the author
has
taken from Matthew 24 is the parable of the fig tree, which 2:1
borrows from Matthew 24:32:
«As for you, learn from the fig tree its parable. As soon as
« its shoots have sprouted
and its twigs
have become tender, at
« that time will be the end
of the world. »
It is in this parable that the author of the Apocalypse of
Peter finds the real answer to the disciples' question about the
time of the parousia. The end of the world will come when the
fig tree sprouts. But what is the meaning of the sprouting of the
fig tree? Peter is understandably puzzled and has to ask for an
interpretation (v. 2-3).
Peter's request for an interpretation shows that for the author
of the Apocalypse of Peter the meaning of the parable of the
budding fig tree is not to be found within Matthew 24 itself. He
does not accept the indication in Matthew 24:33 that by the
sprouting of the fig tree is meant simply « all these things » -all
the events which Matthew 24 has depicted as preceding the
parousia. The author of the Apocalypse of Peter requires a more
specific interpretation.
The
sprouting of the fig tree
must be
some specific sign of the end. So he seeks the interpretation
elsewhere and finds it in another Gospel parable about a fig tree,
which he reproduces in 2:5-6. This is the parable of the barren
fig tree, elsewhere found only in Luke's Gospel (13:6-9). I have
argued elsewhere tliat the author has drawn this parable not
from Luke, but from some independent tradition of the
parable 2°. The important point, however, is that the author is
doing what other early Christian interpreters of the parables
also sometimes did: he is assumingthat the imagery common to
the two parables must have a common meaning. Therefore one
parable can be used to interpret the other.
The second parable, the barren fig tree, tells how for many
years the fig tree failed to produce fruit. The
owner proposes that
it be rooted out, but the gardener persuadeshim to allow it one
more chance of fruiting. This fruiting of the fig tree is treated by
our author as equivalent to the sprouting or budding of the fig
tree in the parable of Matthew 24. He correctly perceives that in
the parable of the barren fig-tree the fig tree representsIsrael, and
the contribution which this parable makes to the interpretation of
the other is that it establishes that the fig tree is Israel. Jesus'

APOCALYPSE

OF PETER

31

interpretation of the parable begins: «Do you not know that the

fig tree is the house of Israel?» (2:4). Then

after quoting the

parable of the barren fig tree, he repeats: «Did you not under-

stand that the trunk of the

fig tree is the house of Israel? » (2:7).

So it is the house of

Israel

which must sprout as the final

sign of

the end. But we still do not know what the sprouting or fruiting

of the fig tree is. To explain this the author returns to the theme

of the false Messiah, who (we are now told) will put to death

those who refuse to accept his claim to messiahship.The sprout-

ing of the fig tree represents the many martyrs of the house of

Israel who will die

at the hands of the false Messiah.

So finally we see that the author's third principal interest in these

chapters -along with the false Messiah and the unmistakable

manner of the coming of the true Messiah -is martyrdom. This

is the theme which dominates the second half of chapter 2,

where we are repeatedly told of the many martyrs who will die

at the hands of the false Messiah. Like the other two themes,

this theme of the martyrs

of

the

last days is anchored in

Matthew 24, by means of the author's interpretation of the

parable of the fig tree. By means of skilful selection of material

from Matthew 24 and expansion of this material from other tra-

ditional sources, the author has found dominical authority for a

very clearly focussedapocalyptic expectation. He depicts a situa-

tion in which a false Messiah puts to death those who are not

deceived by his claims because they know that the true Messiah,

Jesus Christ, will come in unmistakable glory. The deaths of

many martyrs of the house of Israel at the hands of the false

Messiah will be the last sign that the end of the world and the

parousia

of Jesus Christ as judge of the world are imminent.

We could reduce the dominant concerns of these first two

chapters of the Apocalypse of Peter to two closely connected

concerns: a) the question of the true and false Messiahs, and

b) martyrdom. The two concerns are closely connected because

those who are not deceived by the claims of the false Messiahare

to be

put to death by him. This means, of course, that those who

heed the warning against believing and following false Messiahs

with which Jesus' words begin (1:4-5) are going to incur martyr-

dom. By contrast with Matthew 24, where

martyrdom is mention-

ed (24:9) but is not a major theme and is not connected with the

false Messiahs, in the Apocalypse of Peter martyrdom at the

hands of the false Messiah completely dominates the expectation

of what must happen before the parousia. We have to conclude

that the author envisagedhis readers having to discern and resist

the claims of a false Messiah and facing martyrdom as a result.

The question arises: Are the readers already in this situation ~

32 R. BAUCKHAM has the false Messiah appeared, is he already persecuting Christians -or is his
32
R. BAUCKHAM
has the false Messiah appeared, is he already persecuting
Christians -or is his appearance and persecution
still future?
This is the familiar problem of identifying the point at which an
apocalyptic prediction moves from the
presentinto the futQre.
The writer's exclusive concern with
the false Messiah and the
persecution he carries out must indicate that this persecution is
already under way. If these were simply features of a traditional
apocalyptic scenario which the author reproduces as expecta-
tion for the future, the exclusion of all other features of such
traditional apocalyptic scenarios would be inexplicable. The
false Messiah must be already a threat; the Apocalypse's
readers must be already tempted to
believe his claim; some of
those who, out of loyalty to the Messiah Jesus,refuse to follow
him must have already been put to death. This impression given
us by the first two chapters is confirmed by the evidence which
the rest of the Apocalypse of Peter provides that it was written
in a situation of persecution. There are two main pieces of
evidence of this kind:
a) In the account of the punishments in hell after the last judgment. As we shall
a) In the account of the punishments in hell after the last
judgment. As we shall see later (in our section 1I.7, below), the
Apocalypse of Peter, in the long account of the many catego-
ries of sinners and the specific punishments each receives in
hell (chapters 7-12), is certainly
taking over traditional apoca-
lyptic material. We have many other similar accounts of the
punishments in hell, which derive from common streams of
apocalyptic tradition. The literary relationships among these
so-called «tours of hell » are debatable and complex, but there
can be no doubt that, here as elsewhere, the Apocalypse of
Peter takes over traditional material. The other tours of hell
show us the kind of material which was the Apocalypse of
Peter's source for 7-12. By this means we can be confident that
most of the categories of sinners which the Apocalypse of Peter
depicts in hell were traditional. By and large, the author did
not decide which sins to mention in his account of hell: he
took them over from apocalyptic tradition. But there are three
categories of sinners in hell in the Apocalypse of Peter which
cannot be paralleled in other tours of hell and which occur in
succession as a group of three in 9:1-4. The first group are
«those who persecuted and betrayed my righteous ones» -
i.e. those who put the martyrs to death. The second group are
«those who blasphemed and perverted my righteousness» -
probably those who apostatized in order to escapemartyrdom.
The third group are «those who caused death by their false
witness» -presumably those who informed on the martyrs.
APOCALYPS~ OF PETER 33 The unique 21inclusion of these three categories of sinners in an account
APOCALYPS~
OF PETER
33
The unique 21inclusion of these three categories of sinners in an
account of the punishments in hell must indicate a situation of
persecution and martyrdom as the Sitz im Leben of the
Apoca.lypse of Peter.
b) In chapter 16, when the disciples are given a vision of para-
dise, Peter is told by Jesus that «this is the honour and glory of
those who are persecuted for my righteousness» (16:5). This
makes it clear that the concern with paradise in the latter part of
the Apocalypse of Peter is primarily a concern for the reward
that awaits the martyrs in the next life.
If chapter 2 therefore refers to a persecution by a false
Messiah which has already begun, we may note two further
points about the martyrs. In the first place, they are Jews, as
2:11 insists «<It is at that time that the twigs of the fig tree, which
alone is the house of Israel, will have become tender. There will
be martyrs at his hand»). Secondly, the persecution can only
have begun. Presumablyv.
12 refers to an event still in the future:
« Enoch and Elijah will be
sent to
make them understand that he
is the impostor who is to come into the world
...
»
Unless we
suppose that the author identified two of his contemporaries as
Enoch and Elijah, of which he gives no hint, we must suppose
that the enlightenment as to the falsity of the false Messiah's
claim which Enoch and Elijah will bring to many of those who
are to be martyred still lies in the future. Probably, a few of the
author's fellow Jewish Christians have already been martyred:
they are those who, because of their faith in Jesus as Messiah,
already recognize the deception of the false Messiah. But the
author expectsmany more Jews-those who are not yet believers
in Jesus -to reject the false Messiah when Enoch and Elijah
expose him. These will be the majority of the martyrs and their
martyrdom lies still in the immediate future. Thus
2:13 explains:
«This is why
[i.e. because Enoch and Elijah have
demonstrated
that the false Messiahis the deceiver] those who [then] die at his
hand will be martyrs, and will be numbered with the good and
righteous martyrs who have pleased the Lord with their lives
[that is, with those who have already died as martyrs] ». This
means that the currently unbelieving Jews who, enlightened by
21. The only parallel I know is in one of the medieval Hebrew apoca-
lypses translated
by
M.
GASTER, « Hebrew Visions of
Hell
and
Paradise », reprinted from Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1893),
p.
571-611, in M. GASTER,Studies and Texts,vol. 1 (London:
Maggs,
1928), p. 136 (Revelation of Moses A, 43): « they have delivered up
their brother Israelite to the Gentile ».
34 R. BAUCKHAM Enoch and Elijah, will die at the hands of the false Messiah in
34
R. BAUCKHAM
Enoch and Elijah, will die
at the hands of
the
false Messiah in
the future, are going to be numbered with the Jewish Christian
martyrs who have already suffered death at his hands.
Who then is the false Messiah who is already persecuting
Jewish Christians and who can be expected to turn against other
Jews if they too reject his messiahship? The historical situation
of the early church and other early Christian literature suggests
only two possibilities: a Roman emperor or a Jewish messianic
pretender. Against the first possibility, we may note that the
author's quite explicit limitation of horizon to Jewish Christians
and Jews would be very surprising if a Roman persecution of
Christians were in view. But more decisively, when early
Christian apocalyptic associatesthe persecuting Antichrist figure
with the Roman imperial power there is always allusion to the
Roman imperial cult. The Antichrist is then said to claim divinity
and to require worship. The false Messiah of the Apocalypse of
Peter merely claims to be the Messiah, and all the emphasis is
put specifically on the issue of who is the true Messiah (1:5;
2:7-10). This points to an inner-Jewish context: a debate bet-
ween the Christian claim that Jesusis Messiah and the claims of
a Jewish messianic claimant ..
If then, the false Messiah of the Apocalypse of Peter is a
Jewish messianic pretender of the period after 70 C.E. (since the
Apocalypse of Peter must be dated later than 70), there
are only
two possible identifications:
In the first place, we cannot neglectthe
possibility that the false
Messiahis the leader of
the Jewish revolt
in Egypt and Cyrenaica
in the years 115-117in the reign of Trajan 22.Though we know
very little
about it, it is clear that this revolt was on a considerable
scale. Of its leader we know (from Eusebius) only his name
Lucuas and the fact that Eusebius calls him «their king» (Hist.
Eccl. 4.2.4). A major Jewish revolt against Rome at this period
must have had a messianiccharacter, and a leader of sucha revolt
described as king must have been seenas a messianicfigure. Our
meagre sources tell us nothing of any persecution of Christians
during this revolt, and we may note that Eusebius,had he known
of such persecution, would certainly have mentioned it. But on
the other hand, we know that the rebellious Jews massacred
22. On this revolt and its messianic character, see especially M. HENGEL,«Messianische Hoffnung und politischer "Radikalismus"
22. On this revolt and its messianic character, see especially
M.
HENGEL,«Messianische Hoffnung und politischer "Radikalismus"
in der "judisch-hellenistischen Diaspora" », in D. HELLHOLM ed.,
Apocalypticism in the Mediterranean World and the Near East
(Tubingen: Mohr [Siebeck], 1983),p. 655-686(with references to other
literature).
APOCALYP~E OF PETER 35 Gentiles in large numbers. It is likely enough that Jewish Christians who
APOCALYP~E
OF PETER
35
Gentiles in large numbers. It is likely enough that Jewish
Christians who refused to join the Tevoltwould also have suffered.
One feature of the Apocalypse of Peter could support a sug-
gestion that it originated among Jewish Christians in Egypt
during the revolt of 115-117.In 10:5, one category of the sinners
in hell are the manufacturers of idols. The idols they made are
described as «the idols made by human hands, the images which
resemble cats, lions and reptiles, the images of wild animals ».
This has often been taken to refer specificallyto Egyptian
religion
and therefore to point to an origin for the Apocalypse of Peter in
Egypt. Images of gods in the form of animals were of course
especially characteristic of ancifnt Egypt, and of the specific
animals mentioned the first, dats, would infallibly suggest
Egyptian religion. Other Jewish texts which certainly or prob-
ably originated
in Egypt have similar references to animal
images (Wisd 12:24; 15:18; SibOr5 :278-280;Philo, Decal. 76-80;
De vita contemp. 8; Leg. 139; 163), often specifying cats and
reptiles (LetAris 138; SibOr 3:30-p1;SibOr Frag 3:22,27-30).
Since the Apocalypse of Peter qtost probably reached Ethiopia
via Egypt, it is possible that the rfference to idols in the form of
animals is a later glossintroduced Iinto the text of the
Apocalypse
of Peter in Egypt. The
reference is missing in the parallel passage
of the Akhmim text. On the other hand, there are few other
points in the Ethiopic
version of the Apocalypse of Peter where
there is any very good reasonto suspecta gloss,so that we should
be very cautious about resorting to
this explanation. In fact, there
is no Teal difficulty in supposing that this description of idols
could have been written by a P~lestinian Jew (cf. TMos 2:7;
LAB 44:5, for referencesto anim~l idols in a
Palestiniancontext).
Paul in Romans 1:23 refers to idol~
as «images resembling mortal
man or birds or animals or reptiles », and Justin refers to the wor-
ship of animals in a general discussionof idolatry, evidently using
specifically Egyptian forms of idolatry as an instance of idolatry
in general (Apol. 1.24). A Jewish Christian opponent of idolatry
might well have consideredthe
worship of animal forms the most
degrading form of idolatry (as
lat;er Christian writers did) 23and
singled it out for mention for this teason. At this period Egyptian
cults were practised outside Egypt, and the Egyptian veneration
of cats must have been very well known 24,
23. E.g. Aristides, Apol. 12.1; Theophilus, Ad Auto/. 1.10; Tertullian, Ad Nat.2.8; Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech.6.10.
23. E.g. Aristides, Apol. 12.1; Theophilus, Ad Auto/. 1.10; Tertullian,
Ad Nat.2.8; Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech.6.10.
24. For the general reputation of Egypt for animal worship, see K. A.
D. SMELIKand E. A. HEMELRIJK,«"Who knows not what monsters
demented Egypt worships ?" : Opinions on Egyptian animal worship in
36 R. BAUCKHAM That the Apocalypse of Peter originated in Egypt during the Jewish revolt under
36
R. BAUCKHAM
That the Apocalypse of Peter originated in Egypt during the
Jewish revolt under Trajan is a possibility which perhaps cannotbe
entirely excluded.However, there are stronger grounds for identi-
fying the false Messiah of the Apocalypseof Peter with the leader
of the Jewish revolt in Palestine in the years 132-135C.E., the
leader whose real name we now know to have been Shim'on bar
Kosiva, but who is still generally known by his messianicnickname
Bar Kokhba. The argumentsfor seeinga referenceto Bar Kokhba
in the Apocalypse of Peterand therefore for the origin of the work
in Palestine during the Bar Kokhba revolt, are as follows:
a) First, it is necessaryto defend the view that Bar Kokhba was seen by many of
a) First, it is necessaryto defend the view that Bar Kokhba
was seen by many of his supporters as the Messiah, since this
view has been contested by some recent
writers 25. For our
purposes we do not need to know whether Bar Kokhba himself
made a messianicclaim, only that such a claim was made on his
behalf by his supporters 260In favour of this, there is, first, the
rabbinic evidence, most importantly the well-known tradition
(yo Ta'ano 68d) 27that Rabbi Aqiva declared Bar Kokhba to be
the
King Messiah, and connected his name with the prophecy of
the star (kokhav) that will come forth from Jacob (Num 24:17),
a favourite messianic text of the period. Whether this view of
Bar Kokhba is correctly attributed to Aqiva is unimportant for
our purpose. What is significant is that such a view of
Bar Kokhba could certainly not have originated after
Bar Kokhba's defeat and death. The tradition must preserve an
identification of Bar Kokhba as the Messiah and the star of
Antiquity as part of the ancient conception of Egypt », in Aufstieg und Niedergang der romischen
Antiquity as part of the ancient conception of Egypt », in Aufstieg und
Niedergang der romischen Welt, 2.17/4, ed. W. HAASE (Berlin/New
York: de Gruyter, 1984),p. 1852-2000.
25. L. MILDENBERG, The Coinage of the Bar Kokhba Revolt
(Aarau/Frankfurt am Main/ Salzburg: Sauerliinder, 1984),p. 75-76; and
cf. B. ISAAC and A. OPPENHEIMER,«The Revolt of Bar Kokhba:
Ideology and Modern Scholarship », Journal of Jewish Studies 36
(1985), p. 57; A. RHEINHARTZ,«Rabbinic Perceptions of Simeon bar
Kosiba », Journal for theStudy of Judaism 20 (1989), p. 173-174, for
references to others who deny that Bar Kokhba was seen in messianic
terms.
26. A. RHEINHARTZ,«Rabbinic Perceptions », op. cit., argues that the
claim was made during the war, as an explanation of Bar Kokhba's suc-
cess,by some of his supporters,though not by all.
27. On this tradition, see P. SCHAFER,Der Bar-Kokhba-Aufstand
(TSAJ 1; Tubingen: Mohr [Siebeck], 1981), p. 55-57; P. LENHARTand
P.
VON DENOSTEN-SACKEN,
Rabbi Akiva
(ANTZ
1; Berlin:
Institut
Kirche und Judentum.1987). D. 307-317.
APOCALYPfE OF PETER 37 Jacob which was made during the revolt 28. Second, from Christian sources,
APOCALYPfE
OF PETER
37
Jacob which was made during
the revolt 28. Second, from
Christian sources, beginning with Justin, who was writing only
twenty years after the revolt, we know that Bar Kosiva must
have been quite widely known as Bar Kokhba «<son of the
star »)29. This pun on his real name is explicable only as an iden-
tification of him as the messianic star of Jacob (Num 24:17) and
thus corroborates the rabbinic tradition attached to the name of
Aqiva. Thirdly, rabbinic traditions which explicitly deny that
Bar
Kokhba was the Messiahand Christian sourceswhich depict
him as a false messianic pretender indirectly confirm that during
the revolt he was regarded by many as the Messiah. If it is un-
likely that Christian writers would represent as a false Messiaha
Jewish leader for whom messianic claims had never been
made, it is even less likely that. rabbinic traditions hostile to
Bar Kokhba would have invented a messianic claim for him in
order to deny it 30.Fourthly, the fact that in the recently discovered
Bar Kokhba documentshe is treated as a purely human military
and political
leader is not, as somehave supposed,in contradiction
to the claim
that
he was regarded as Messiah. Messianic expecta-
tions of the time
certainly included the purely human figure who
would restore Jewish national sovereignty by force of arms.
b) Turning to more detailed correlations between what we know of Bar Kokhba and the Apocalypse
b) Turning to more detailed correlations between what we
know of Bar Kokhba and the Apocalypse of Peter, we know
from Justin (1 Apol. 31.6) that Bar Kokhba ordered that
Christians who would not deny Jesus as the Messiah should be
punished severely. This is very early evidence of persecution of
Jewish Christians by Bar Kokhba and there is no reason at all to
doubt it. The Bar Kokhba letters show that the rebel government
took strong action againstJews who failed to support the revolt,
and it
is therefore intrinsically likely that Jewish Christians, who
could
not acknowledge Bar Kokhba's political authority without
accepting his messiahship, would suffer. It is true that there is
not much evidence that the revolt extended to Galilee 31,where
probably the majority of Jewish Christians who lived west of the
Jordan at this time were to be found. But there is no difficulty in
supposing that there were also Jewish Christians in Judrea,while
our interpretation of the Apocalypse of Peter does not require
28.
So A. RHEINHARTZ,«Rabbinic P~rceptions », op. cit.,p.176-177.
29.
The treatment of this evidence liy MILDENBERG,Coinage, op. cit.,
p. 79-80,is irresponsible.
30.
A. RHEINHAR1Z,«Rabbinic Perceptions », op. cit., p.177.
31.
P. SCHAFER,
Der Bar-Kokhba-Aufstand, op, cit.,p.102-134; B.
ISAAC
and A. OPPENHEIMER,
«The Revolt of Bar Kokhba », op. cit., p. 53-54.
38 R. BAUCKHAM there to have been very large numbers of Jewish Christians killed by Bar
38
R. BAUCKHAM
there to have been very large numbers of Jewish Christians
killed by Bar Kokhba's troops. A small number of martyrs
would sufficiently explain the expectation that many more
martyrdoms would soon follow.
c) Apocalypse of Peter 2:12 calls thefalse Messiah«the impos- ter who is to come into the
c)
Apocalypse of Peter 2:12 calls thefalse Messiah«the impos-
ter who is to come into the world and who will perform signs
and wonders in order to
deceive ». This is a traditional expecta-
tion of the Antichrist, taken here from Matthew 24:24. The
author may have understood the signs and wonders as Bar
Kokhba's military successwhich no doubt persuaded many to
regard him as the Messiah. But it is also noteworthy that later
Christian tradition about Bar Kokhba attributed to him the
deceptive miracles expected of the Antichrist. Eusebius, in a
statement that may well be based on Aristo of Pella and may
therefore preserve Palestinian Jewish Christian tradition, says
that Bar Kokhba claimed to be «a star which had come down
from heaven to give light to the oppressed by working miracles »
(Rist. Eccl. 4.6.2). Jerome (Ad Rufin. 3.31) says that Bar Kokhba
pretended to breathe fire by means of a lighted straw in his
mouth. These statementscannot, of course, be taken as evidence
that Bar Kokhba really claimed to work miracles, but they do
reveal a Christian tradition of identifying Bar Kokhba with the
false Messiahwho works miracles, a tradition which may well go
back to the Apocalypse of Peter, written during the revolt itself.
d) There seemto have been two punning variations on Shim'on bar Kosiva's name. One was the
d) There seemto have been two punning variations on Shim'on
bar Kosiva's name. One was the messianicnickname Bar
Kokhba
«<son of the star»). The other was a derogatory nickname,
denying his messianic claim. This derogatory version is formed
by spelling his name not with a samek but with a zayin: bar
Koziva «<son of the lie» [kozav]), that. is, «liar ». This spelling
(Koziva) is consistently used in rabbinic literature. It has some-
times recently been regarded as no more than an alternative
spelling 32,but the Bar Kokhba letters consistently spell the
name either with a samek Of,occasionally, with a sin, and so it is
likely that the spelling with a zayin originated as a derogatory
pun 33.The fact that rabbinic traditions use it even in positive
statements about Bar Kokhba, such as that attributed to Aqiva,
merely indicates that it had become the only designation of
32.
E.g. A. RHEINHARTZ,«Rabbinic Perceptions », op. cit., p. 191.
33.
P. SCHAFER,
Der Bar-Kokhba-Aufstand, op. cit.,p. 51-52; P; LENHART
and P. VONDEN OSTEN-SACKEN,
Rabbi Akiva, 0]). cit.,p. 312-313.
APOCALYP$E OF PETER 39 Bar Kokhba in rabbinic tradition. From the rabbinic evidence we cannot tell
APOCALYP$E
OF PETER
39
Bar Kokhba in rabbinic tradition. From the rabbinic evidence
we cannot tell whether this derogatory pun on the leader's name
originated only after his defeat and the general discrediting of
his messianic claim or whether it was already in use during the
revolt by those Jews who refused to support him. But there is
one statement in the Apocalypse of Peter which would gain par-
ticular force if the derogatory pun Bar Koziva was already in
use. 2:10 declares: «As for that liar, he is not the Messiah». The
word in the Ethiopic is different from «imposter» in 2:12, and
presumably translates the Greek \j/Eucr"tT1<;.
The
idea of
the
Antichrist as a deceiver was, of course, thoroughly traditional in
early Christian apocalyptic traditions, and 1 John 2:22 may well
indicate that the Antichrist was sometimes known specifically as
«the liar» «()\j/Eucr"tT1<;). But the statement in the Apocalypse of
Peter would certainly be peculiarly apposite if it could be
understood to allude also to the derogatory pun on the false
Messiah'sname: «this Bar Koziva is not the Messiah».
e) For the last indication that the Apocalypse of Peterwas writ- ten in specific opposition to
e) For the last indication that the Apocalypse of Peterwas writ-
ten in specific opposition to Bar Kokhba's messianic movement,
we must turn to a passage towards the end of the book, in
chapters 16-17.The two issuesof the
identity of the true Messiah
and the fate of those who are loyal
to him -the issues which
dominate the first two chapters of the apocalypse -are
the
issues to which the apocalypse teturns in its closing chapters.
In 16:7-17:1we read:
«I [Peter] said to him [Jesus], "My Lord, do you wish me to
«make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one
« for Elijah ?" 8He said to me, in wrath, "Satan is fighting
you
«and
has veiled your mind!
Worldly affairs overcome you! 9
« But your eyes will be opened! and your ears will be opened,
«[toperceive] that there is one tent,
not made by human hand,
«which
my heavenly Father has made for me and for
my
«elect". We saw [it], rejoicing~ 17 1 And behold, suddenly a
«voice came from heaven, sa~ing, "This is my Son, whom
« I love and with whom I am well pleased.Obey him!" »
I
This is a crucially important ~assage. Its inspiration is the
Matthean account of the transfiguration of Jesus, from which
our author has drawn the beginning and the end of this passage:
Peter's proposal to build thret; tents for Jesus, Moses and
Elijah (16:7) and the voice fro~
heaven declaring
Jesus to be
God's beloved son (17:1). But the! material in between (16:8-9)is
the author's addition. In 16:8 Peter is very severely rebuked by
Jesus. Although reminiscent df Jesus' rebuke of Peter in
40 R. BAUCKHAM Matthew 16:23, this sharp rebuke of Peter for his proposal to build the
40
R. BAUCKHAM
Matthew 16:23, this sharp rebuke of Peter for his proposal to
build the three tents is rather surprising. Why is Peter's proposal
evidence that his mind is veiled by Satan, who has conquered
him with matters of this world? We shall see. But following the
rebuke, Peter is promised a revelation: specifically, a two-part
revelation consisting of a vision «<your eyes will be opened»)
and of an audition «<your ears will be opened »). The vision is of
the one tent, not
made with human hands, which God has made
for Jesusand his
elect (16:9). The audition is the voice declaring
Jesus to be God's beloved son, whom the disciples must obey
(17:1). By this double revelation -of the tent not made with
hands and of Jesus as God's son -the veil Satan has cast over
Peter's mind is removed and he is shown the truth.
The importance of the audition (the words of the heavenly
voice) is clearly that it makes clear the identity of
the true
Messiah. Whereas in chapter 1 we were told only
that the
parousia of Jesus Christ will make his identity as the Messiah
unequivocally clear, here at the climax of the whole book Jesus'
messiahshipis already declared by the divine voice. Clearly we
are back in the same context of issues as chapters 1 and 2
presuppose. Less obvious is the significance of the vision: the one tent, not
made with human hands, contrasted with the three tents Peter
proposes to make. The tent not made with human hands (the
Greek must have been O"lCllvlil1XEtpo7toill'tll) reminds us of
Mark 14:58, where Jesus' prophecy of the destruction of the
temple contrasts the present temple, made with
hands, and the
eschatological temple, not made with hands. It
also resembles
Hebrews 9:11, which contrasts the earthly tent (the tabernacle),
made with hands, and the heavenly sanctuary: «the greater and
perfect tent, not made with hands, that is, not of this creation ».
Our text is not dependent on either of these passagesbut moves
in the same world of ideas. The tent
not made with human hands
which the Father has made for Jesusand his elect is the heavenly
temple. It is God's heavenly dwelling-place in which he will
dwell with his people in the eschatological age, when God's
dwelling -God's O1(llVll- will be with his people (Rev 21:3). In
Jewish and Jewish Christian Greek O"lCllVllwas used as equiva-
lent to mishkan because of the correspondence of the conso-
nants of O"lCllVllwith the Hebrew root shakan. So it really meant,
not so much «tent », as «dwelling-place »: the tabernacle or the
temple as the divine dwellingplace. (In Tobit 13:11 0"1C1lvf1is used
for the temple which is to be rebuilt in the eschatological age.)
So the connexion
is easily made between the three tents or dwel-
lings which Peter proposes to build for Jesus,Moses and Elijah,
APOCALYPSE OF PETER 41 and the heavenly temple which is to be the real eschatological dwelling-place
APOCALYPSE OF PETER
41
and the heavenly temple which is to be the real eschatological
dwelling-place of Jesusand his elect with God. Peter's error is to
propose to build earthly tents himself, instead of the heavenly
temple, not made with human hands, which God has made.
But why is Peter so severelyrebuked for this error, and why is
it corrected, not simply by the vision of the heavenlytemple, but
also by the voice which makes clear the identity of the false
Messiah? Peter's proposal is taken to show that Satanhas blinded
his mind both to the identity of the true Messiah and to the
nature of the eschatologicaltemple. The point must be that the
proposal to build earthly tents, made with human hands, asso-
ciates Peter with the false Messiah. The whole passagemakes
excellent sense and connects with the concerns of the opening
chapters if we assume that the messianic pretender whom the
Apocalypse of Peter opposeswas intending to rebuild the temple
in Jerusalem. The author understands Peter's proposal to build
the three tents as,so to speak, endorsing this project of the false
Messiah. By contrast, the temple in which God will dwell with
the true Messiah Jesus and his people is not an
earthly temple,
constructed by human hands, but the heavenly temple, made by
God himself. Thus the distinguishing of the true Messiah from
the false is closely linked with understanding the kind of temple
that each promises to his people. The climactic revelation of
the
Apocalypse of Peter, by revealing both the true Temple and the
true Messiah, counters the satanically inspired temptation to
follow the false Messiah in his
proposalto build an earthly temple.
This interpretation of the passage is further confirmed and
reinforced when we notice the location of the scene.For this we
must go back to 15:1. The first fourteen chapters of the
Apocalypse of Peter were located, like Matthew's eschatological
discourse, on the Mount of Olives.
But in 15:1, there is a change
of location: Jesus says to Peter: «Let us go to the holy moun-
tain ». The last three chapters of the apocalypseare thus located
on the holy mountain. Which mountain is meant? It is true that
2
Peter (1:18) locates the transfiguration on the holy mountain,
and the
author of the Apocalypseof Peter probably knew 2 Peter.
But this does not mean that he would
not have intended a
specific mountain. He would probably have understood, in
2
Peter'sreference to the transfiguration, the deliberate allusions
to Psalm 2, where God says: «I have set my king on Zion, my
holy mountain» 34.Moreover, he would have known that the
42 BAUCKHAM only mountain which the Old Testament ever calls «the holy mountain» is mount Zion,
42
BAUCKHAM
only mountain which the Old Testament ever calls «the holy
mountain» is mount Zion, the temple mount. So in Apocalypse
of Peter 15:1, Jesus is proposing that he and the disciples cross
the Kidron valley from the Mount of Olives to the Temple
mount. Thus the visions that follow are located where, for
example, in the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch (13:1), Baruch
receives revelations from God about the eschatological future
-revelations which answer Baruch's anguish and perplexity
about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple (cf. also
3 Baruch: introduction). Baruch received his revelations amid
the ruins of the Temple (cf. 2 Bar 8-9). The author of the
Apocalypse of Peter,of course, knew that at the fictional time at
which his own work is set the second Temple was still standing,
but he passes over it in silence. He thus allows the implication
that it is actually on the site of the temple that Peter proposes to
erect the three tents. In this climax of his work, our author is
actually offering his own answer to the issue that preoccupied
the Jewish apocalyptists of his time: in the divine purpose what
is to replace the second temple? Like some of them -for his
answeris distinctively Christian only in making a connexion with
the messiahship of Jesus -he turned from all thought
of a
human attempt to rebuild the earthly temple in favour of a
transcendenttemple provided by God.
This argument about the meaning of Apocalypse of Peter 16:7-
17:1 really requires that the rebuilding of the temple in
Jerusalem was a central policy of the messianic movement the
Apocalypse opposes. From the
coins of the Bar Kokhba revolt
we know that this
was indeed
the case with
Bar Kokhba's cam-
paign. There is no
need for us to decide the
debated question of
whether the rebels succeeded in capturing
Jerusalem35. In any
case, the intention to liberate Jerusalem was undoubtedly the
central proclaimed intention of the revolt. But this carried with
it the intention to rebuild the temple 36.From the beginning of
the revolt, a representation of the temple featured on all the
tetradrachma coins of the regime. Various objects associated
with the worship of the temple featured on other coins 37.The
temple and its worship seem to have been one of, perhaps the
central symbol of the revolt. Anyone asking the purpose of the
revolt might well have been told: to liberate Jerusalem, to
35. Cf. B. ISAACand A. OPPENHEIMER, «The Revolt of Bar Kokhba op. cit.,p. 54-55. 36.Cf. ibid.,p.
35. Cf. B. ISAACand A. OPPENHEIMER,
«The Revolt of Bar Kokhba
op. cit.,p. 54-55.
36.Cf. ibid.,p. 47-48.
37.Cf. ibid.,p. 49.

R.

43 APOCALYPSE OF PETER rebuild the temple, to restore the temple worship. It was this central
43
APOCALYPSE OF PETER
rebuild the temple, to restore the temple worship. It was this
central religious as well as political purpose which united most
Palestinian Jews in support of Bar Kokhba 38and presumably
encouraged them to see him as the Messiah anointed by God to
fulfil this purpose.
Understood against this background, the Apocalypse of Peter
very interestingly reveals to us that the Jewish Christians of
Palestine -or, at least, those who took the same view as our
author -not only could not acknowledge Bar Kokhba as
Messiah, but also that they had no sympathy for his central aim
of rebuilding the temple. For them an earthly temple had no
further place in the divine purpose. To any who were tempted to
join their fellow-Jews in this aim of rebuilding the temple, the
Apocalypse of Peter says that Satan has veiled
their minds. Its
apocalyptic
revelation of the true Messiah and the true Temple
is designed to open their eyes and uncover their ears, as it did
Peter's.
II. JUDGMENT The dominant theme in the Apocalypse of Peter is the escha- tological judgment. The
II. JUDGMENT
The dominant theme in the Apocalypse of Peter is the escha-
tological judgment. The concern with this theme of judgment
relates to the situation which the Apocalypse of Peter addresses,
as we considered it in the last chapter. It is a situation in which a
false Messiah is putting to death those who refuse to support
him out of their loyalty to the true Messiah. The persecutors and
apostatesflourish, while those who follow the way of righteous-
ness suffer persecution and martyrdom. It is the
classicapocalyp-
tic situation, which we can trace right back
to the Book of
Daniel. It is the classic apocalyptit problem of theodicy. It is pre-
cisely the
context in which the cla$sicearly Jewish expectation of
the resurrection and judgment
of the dead, the achievement of
justice in the end by means of eschatological rewards and
punishments, had taken shape. Thus the author of the
Apocalypse of Peter was heir tb a long tradition which had
addressed precisely such a situation as his and had developed a
scenario of eschatological judgment which he was able to re-
present by means of a series of highly traditional themes.
Nothing in the Apocalypse of Peter's account of eschatological
38. L. MILDENBERG,Coinage, op. cit.,p. 31-48.
38. L. MILDENBERG,Coinage, op. cit.,p. 31-48.
44 R. BAUCKHAM judgment is specifically Christian except the identification of the divine judge as Jesus
44
R. BAUCKHAM
judgment is specifically Christian except the identification
of the
divine judge as Jesus Christ in his parousia. The interest of
the
accountlies in its exceptionallydetailed and complete compilation
of traditional apocalyptic themes on this subject.
In
this chapter we shall study the various themes connected
with
eschatologicaljudgment in the first fourteen chapters of the
Apocalypse
of Pete!: For the most part, we shall consider them in
the order in which they occur in the text.
« Each according to his deed ». This is a highly significant phrase which occurs five
« Each according to his deed ».
This is a highly significant phrase which occurs five times in
the Apocalypse of Peter,each occurrence of it strategicallyplaced.
The first occurrence is in the initial description of the parousia in
1:7-8. Jesus the true Messiah will come in glory with his angels
and his Father will place a crown on his head, giving him
authority to exercisedivine judgment on the living and the dead,
so that he may «repay everyone according to his
deeds» (v. 8).
The phrase encapsulatesthe theme of eschatological judgment
which will dominate chapters6-13.
Then there are two further occurrences of the phrase, «each
according to his deeds» in chapter 6 (v. 3 and 6). Chapter 6 is the
detailed account of the last judgment itself, in which the wicked
and the righteous are distinguished and the wicked assignedto
their punishment. In 6:3 the point of the phrase, « each according
to his deeds », is that each
will be confronted, in the judgment,
with his or her own deeds that he or she did during his or her
lifetime, and will be judged accordingly. In 6:6 the point is that
appropriate punishment for the wicked will follow:
in other
words, the punishment of each will fit his or her particular
crimes.
The use of the phrase in 6:6 -with reference to the eternal
punishment of «each according to his deeds» -is really
programmatic. It states the theme for chapters 7-12 in which the
punishment appropriate to each sin is described. In all, twenty-
one specific sins and the
punishments allotted to each are listed
in
those chapters. The point of this description of hell is mainly
to
make precisely this point: that each particular kind of sin will
receive its appropriate punishment. Thus although the phrase,
«each according to his deeds », is not actually used within
those chapters (7-12), it is in fact the theme of them, already
stated in 6:6. (The way in which the punishments are designed
to fit the crime in each case is a topic we shall consider in our
section 11.7below.)
APOCALYPSE OF PETER 45 Finally, the phrase is again used twice in the chapter which follows
APOCALYPSE OF PETER
45
Finally, the phrase is again used twice in the chapter which
follows the description of hell: chapter 13. In 13:3 it again states
the principle by which the punishmentswhich have beendescribed
are allotted. It indicates the justice of the punishments in hell.
The point is then reinforced in v. 6, where the damned them-
selves,suffering their punishments,finally acknowledgethe justice
of their punishments:
«The judgment of God is righteous,
becausewe have been paid back, each according to his deeds».
Thus the
positioning of the phrase in each of its five occur-
rences is very significant. It occurs first in the programmatic
description of the parousia as Jesus Christ's coming to exercise
divine judgment. Then it occurs twice in each of the two chap-
ters (6 and 13) which frame the long description of the punish-
ments in hell. It states the principle of strict justice by which the
punishments in hell are allotted. Repeated statement of the
principle that each should be punished strictly in accordance
with his or her own
deeds makes it clear that the eschatological
judgment is concerned with nothing but the wholly impartial
judgment of individuals on their merits.
As a standard statement of the principle of divine justice, this
phrase was utterly traditional in the Jewish and Christian
tradition. It
occurs most often in the longer form which the
Apocalypse of Peter uses in 1:8 and 13:6: «to pay back each
according to his deeds ». (In Greek the wording is most often
l17tOOtOovat
tx:am(j} x:atn tn f:pya auto\), but there are variations.)
The expressiongoes right back into the Old Testament tradition
(Ps 62:12 [LXX 61:13]; Prov 24:12; Job 34:11; Jer 17:10) and
continues in early Judaism down to the time of the Apocalypse
of Peter (Sir 16:14; LAB 3:10). In post-biblical Jewish writings it
can be used of God's eschatologicaljustice at the last judgment,
as in Pseudo-Philo, LAB 3:10, where it occurs in a catena of
traditional apocalyptic phrases describing the eschatological
events of resurrection, judgment and new creation. This
standard current Jewish way of referring to God's eschatological
judgment is reflected also in early Christian writers (Rom 2:6;
1
Pet 1:17; Rev 20:13; 2
Clem 11:6), but
most often in early
Christian literature it is Jesus Christ who will render to each
according to his deeds, for early Christianity commonly trans-
ferred to Jesus Christ, as the one who will execute the judge-
ment, all the traditional language about God's eschatological
judgment (e.g. Rev 2:23).
It is important to notice that the precise contexts in which the
Apocalypse of Peter usesthe phrase were in some cases at least
already traditional. In the first place, the phrase was a stan-
dard, almost credal, formula in descriptions of the parousia
46 R. BAUCKHAM (Matt 16:27; Rev 22:12; 1 Clem 34:3; 2 Clem 17:4; Did 16:8; Hegesippus,
46
R. BAUCKHAM
(Matt 16:27; Rev 22:12; 1 Clem 34:3; 2 Clem 17:4; Did 16:8;
Hegesippus, ap. Eusebius, Rist. Eccl. 2.23.9; 3.20.4; Hippolytus,
Dan. 4.10.1-2; QuEzra B14), so much so that it later occurs in a
number of actual creeds. The author of the Apocalypse of Peter
certainly knew one of these texts: Matthew 16:27, which may
well have been in his mind, especially in view
of its proximity to
the Matthean transfiguration narrative. But he certainly also
knew the phrase, «to render to each according to
his deeds », as
part of common traditional formulations about the parousia,
along with other phrases which he uses in 1:6-8.
Secondly, the phrase is also
found with reference to the last
judgment itself and Christ's judicial activity there (Barn 4:12;
EpApp 26, 29; De Universo3), as in Apocalypseof Peterchapter 6.
Thirdly, the phrase is used in visions of the punishments in hell,
with reference to the various punishments allotted to various
sins. Thus it is found in chapters 56 and 57 of the Acts of
Thomas,which certainly is not dependent on
the
Apocalypse of
Peter (as has sometimes been alleged), but on the same tradition
as some of the Apocalypse of Peter's description
of the punish-
ments in hell. Furthermore, in the Hebrew Apocalypse of Elijah,
Elijah says: «I saw there [in Gehenna] spirits undergoing
judgment in torment, each one according to his deed »39.This is
most probably a relic of the ancient Apocalypse of Elijah, and
should be connected with the Latin Elijah fragment (preserved
in the apocryphal Epistle of Titus 40)which actually describesthe
various punishments for various sins, again in a way that shows
common tradition with the Apocalypse of Peter and the Acts of
Thomas. Similarly, in the fragment De universo, which used to
be ascribed to Hippolytus 41,the angels in Hades distribute the
various punishments according to each one's deeds42. Thus the
author of the Apocalypse of Peter almost certainly already knew
the phrase, «each according to his deeds », already used in
39. M. BUTTENWIESER,Ver hebriiische Elias-Apokalypse und ihre Stellung in der apokalyptischer Litteratur des rabbinischen Schriffttums und
39.
M. BUTTENWIESER,Ver hebriiische Elias-Apokalypse und ihre
Stellung in der apokalyptischer Litteratur des rabbinischen Schriffttums
und der Kirche (Leipzig: Pfeiffer, 1897),p.15.
40.
M. STONEand J. STRUGNELL,The Books of Elijah: Parts 1-2
(SBLTI' 18; Missoula, Montana: Scholars Press,1979), p. 14-15. On the
connexion between this text and the Hebrew Apocalypse of Elijah, see
R. BAUCKHAM,«Early Jewish Visions of Hell », Journal of Theological
Studies41 (1990),p. 362-365.
41.
According
to C. E.
HILL, «Hades of Hippolytus
or Tartarus of
Tertullian? The Authorship of the Fragment De Universo », Vigilire
Christianre 43 (1989), p. 105-126,it should be attributed to Tertullian.
42.
K. HaLL, Fragmente vorniciinische Kirchenviiter
aus den sacra
Parallela (TU 5/2; Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1899),p.138, lines 7-9.
APOCALYPSE: OF PETER 47 connection with a description of various kinds of punishments for various sins,
APOCALYPSE: OF PETER
47
connection with a description of various kinds of punishments
for various sins, suchas he reproduces in chapter 7-12.
The already traditional use of the phrase in these three
contexts is what has enabled the author of the Apocalypse of
Peterto connectthe various parts of his portrayal of the judgment
by means of this phrase, «each according to his deeds».
It is the
catchphrase which he found connected the parousia, the judicial
activity of the day of judgment and a description of the various
punishments in hell. Actually, the Apocalypse of Peter is the only
ancient Christian work in which the parousia of Jesus Christ is
connected with an account of the! different punishments allotted
to different sins in hell. But thei connection was, so to
speak,
waiting to be made in the traditional association of the phrase
« each according to his deeds » with both themes.
2. The cosmicconflagration. The chapter on the resurrection (chapter 4), which we must pass over quickly,
2. The cosmicconflagration.
The chapter on the resurrection (chapter 4), which we must
pass over quickly, is a compilation of apocalyptic traditions
about the
eschatological resurrection of the dead 43. But this
material is integrated into the theme of judgment by the strong
emphasis through the chapter on the fact that the resurrection
takes place on the day of judgment (the phrase «day of judg-
ment » occurs four times in the chapter, as well as the equivalent
phrases «day of God» and «day of condemnation»). The
author is interested
in
resurrection
as the prelude
to
the
judgment of the dead.
The end of chapter 4 forges a link with the following chapter:
« On the day of judgment the earth will give back everything
that is in it [i.e. in resurrection], for it too [the earth] will have to
be judged, together with the heaven» (4:13). The judgment of
the heaven and the earth is evidently the cosmic conflagration -
the burning of the whole creation -which takes place in
chapter 5. But from chapter 5 it does not seem that the author
attributes an independent significance to the judgment of the
heaven and the earth as such. The cosmic conflagration seemsto
43. For a study of one of these traditions, see R. BAUCKHAM, «Resurrection as Giving Back
43. For
a
study of
one of these traditions,
see R. BAUCKHAM,
«Resurrection as Giving
Back the Dead:
A Traditional Image of
Resurrection in the Pseudepigrapha and the Apocalypse of John », in
J. H. CHARLESWORTHand C. A. EVANSed., The Pseudepigraphaand
Early Biblical Interpretation (JSPSS14; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1993),
p. 269-291.
48 R. BAUCKHAM be envisagedas the means of bringing human beings to judgment. Chapter 5 opens:
48
R. BAUCKHAM
be envisagedas the means of bringing human beings to judgment.
Chapter 5 opens: «What will happen on the day of judgment to
those who have perverted the faith of God and to those who
have sinned is ( »> ...
The description of the conflagration in verses 2-6 of chapter 5
is rather obscure in its details. But the picture seems to be of
flowing cataracts of fire, apparently flowing
down from the sky,
which bum, consume and melt everything:
the firmament, the
stars, the oceans and the earth. This is the flood of fire which
some Jewish expectation envisaged as the second destruction of
creation, a parallel to the universal Flood of water in Genesis
(LAE 49:3; Josephus,Ant. 1.70)44. Descriptions of the eschato-
logical conflagration which are quite closely parallel to that in
the Apocalypse of Peter occur in Jewish texts: the Qumran
Thanksgiving Hymns (1 QH 3:19-36), the Sibylline Oracles
(SibOr 3:54-87; 4:173-181), and the Pseudo-Sophocleanverses
(ap. Clement of Alexandria, Strom. 5.14.121.4; 5.14.122.1;
Ps.-Justin, De Mon. 3). Such descriptions may owe something to
Iranian eschatology-more likely than to the Stoic idea of the
conflagration -but there can be no doubt that the author
of the
Apocalypse of Peter is immediately indebted for his description
to Jewish apocalyptic tradition.
In such tradition the cosmic
conflagration was related to certain OT texts about judgment by
fire (such as Mal 3:19: «the day [of the Lord] is coming, burning
like an oven ») and especially to Isaiah 34:4, which describesthe
destruction of the sky and the stars on the day of the Lord. The
Hebrew text of this verse appears to have no reference to fire,
but the Septuagint has: «all the powers of the heavens shall
melt» (and cf. 2 Clem 16:3). Apocalypse of Peter 5:4 «<the stars
will melt in a flame of fire »; and cf. v. 6) is certainly an allusion
to that interpretation of Isaiah 34:4.
Following the description of the physical destruction of the
world by fire, in 5:7-8 we are told the effect of the conflagration
on people:
«People that [live] towards the east [will flee to the west;
«people that live] towards the west will flee to the east; people
«that [live towards the south] will
flee to
the north;
[and
«people that live towards the north will flee] to the south. But
« everywhere the wrath of the
frightful fire will find them (
)
»
(ApPet 5:7-8).
APOCALYPSF. OF PETER 49 This is a vivid description of the terror of sinners, fleeing in
APOCALYPSF. OF PETER
49
This is a vivid description of the terror of sinners, fleeing in all
directions to escapethe flood of fire. In whichever direction they
flee the fire pursues them and finds them. This passage is an
interesting example of the way apocalyptic tradition works. For
the
image
has
not
been invented
by
the
author
of
the
Apocalypse of Peter. It was a
traditional apocalyptic topos, as we
can see from
a parallel
in
the
Book
of Thomas from Nag
Hammadi, which is unlikely to be dependent on the Apocalypse
of Pete!: It describes in the following terms the fate of the soul
imprisoned after death in Tartarus :
«If he flees westward, he finds the fire.
« If he turns southward, he finds it there as well.
« If he turns northward, the threat of seething fire meets him
« agaIn.
« Nor does he find the way to the eastso as to flee there and be
« saved, for he did not find it
in the day he was in the body, so
«that he may find
it
in the day of judgment»
(BkThom
143:2-8).
It is quite clear that this picture originally applied, as it does in
the Apocalypse of Peter,to the fire of judgment that engulfs the
world on the day of judgment.
The Book of Thomas has trans-
ferred it to hell, in the other world, appropriately in the sense
that hell is also characterized as fire,
but inappropriately in that
the points of the compass are hardly relevant to Tartarus. But
the form of the tradition in the Book of Thomasis also interest-
ing in that it does not treat all four points of the compassequally,
as the Apocalypse of Peter does. The east is
evidently a direction
in which the fire of judgment will not be found, it is the direction
of salvation from the fire, which the sinner fails to find. Perhaps
the idea is that the east, the land of Israel, is the place where
God's people are protected from the fire that consumesthe wick-
ed. If the author of the Apocalypse of Peter knew the tradition in
this form, he found it an inappropriate image, because, as we
shall see, he seemsto envisagethe fire as an ordeal of judgment
through which all must pass, though the righteous will pass
through it unharmed.
Verse 7 is therefore an example of the kind of traditional apo-
calyptic image which was probably transmitted orally. Many
similar examples can easily be found.
It was from a stock of such
traditions that apocalyptic writers composed their prophetic
accounts of the last days. This was the accepted way of writing
and readers would not be surprised to find such familiar
images
constantly reappearing: they would expect it. Of course, the
more creative apocalyptists doubtless added new images of their
50 R. BAUCKHAM own to those they drew from the common stock of apocalyptic traditions. But
50
R. BAUCKHAM
own to those they drew from the common stock of apocalyptic
traditions. But even so unoriginal writer as the author of the
Apocalypse of Peter could give vividness and liveliness to his
work
by reusing traditional
apocalyptic images
such as this one.
Re uses this particular image in order to portray the fire that
consumesthe world as serving, so to speak, to round up sinners
and drive them to the judgment of wrath in the river of fire:
« But everywhere the wrath of the frightful fire will find
« them, and the inextinguishable flame, pursuing them, will
« bring them to the judgment of wrath in the river of inextin-
« guishable fire,
which flows while fire is burning in it. When its
« seethingwaves are separated,there will be much gnashingof
« teeth for humanity» (ApPet 5:8-9).
The river of fire, as will become clear in chapter 6, is the
means of judgment. It is a kind of ordeal through which all must
pass. It is not clear whether this river of fire actually is the same
flood of fire which has flowed down from the sky and burned
and melted the whole creation.
In any case, the
author has
brought together two rather different traditions about the fire of
judgment: the fire which judges by burning the heavens and the
earth, and the fire which tests all people as they pass through it.
(We shall consider the latter in our section II.5 below.)
3. JesusChrist the Judge.
3. JesusChrist the Judge.
Before describing the judgment itself, the Apocalypse of Peter must describe the judge. This is the
Before describing the judgment itself, the Apocalypse of Peter
must describe the judge. This is the apocalypse'ssecond descrip-
tion of the parousia :
«All of them will see me coming on a shining, eternal
«cloud, and the angels of God sitting with me on the throne of
«my glory at the right hand of my heavenly Father. He will
«place a crown on my head. Then, when the nations see it,
« their tribes will weep, eachone by itself» (ApPet 6:1-2).
Like the first description of the parousia (in 1:6-8), this one is
composed of already traditional formulre. The allusions to
Daniel 7:13; Ps 110:1; and Zechariah 12:10-14; 14:5 are those
which Christians had already brought together in various combi-
nations to
portray the coming of Jesus Christ as the eschatologi-
cal judge. (The image of Christ's coronation by the Father, not
found elsewhere in early Christian literature, may derive from
Psalm 21:3. For the crown itself, worn by Christ as judge, see
Rev 14:14.)
51 APOCALYP.sjEOFPETER Some of the imagery is common to both of the Apocalypse of Peter'stwo descriptions
51
APOCALYP.sjEOFPETER
Some of
the imagery is common to both of the Apocalypse of
Peter'stwo descriptions of the parousia, but there is also a major
difference.
Whereas the first description (1:6-8) is designed pri-
marily to represent the parousia as the unmistakable appearance
of Jesus Christ in glory, and only secondarily to emphasize his
role as judge, this second description (6:1-2) is exclusively
concerned with depicting Christ's status as judge, exercising his
Father's divine authority to judge the
world. All the images are
selected for that purpose. So again we
have a good illustration of
the way
very little of the content of the Apocalypse of Peter is
original, but, on the other hand, how the traditional images are
carefully selected and combined to fulfil
the author's purpose.
He composes from a stock of tradition, but his composition is
nonethelessdeliberate and careful.
4. Deedsas Witnesses. After the judge, the witnesse~ at the trial are introduced: «Each one's deeds
4.
Deedsas Witnesses.
After the judge, the witnesse~ at the trial are introduced:
«Each one's deeds will stand befbre him, each according to his
deeds» (6:3). In this,
at first sight rather curious image, the
deeds of each individual, what he has done in his lifetime, are
personified. The deeds of each stand there before him or her.
The reference in fact seemsto be only to the wicked and their
evil deeds, because the next verse distinguishes, as a separate
category, «the elect, those who ha~e done good ».
The significance of this image ~f the evil deeds of the wicked
standing b~fore them at the judgment will be clearer if we com-
pare some Ioccurrences of the same image in other literature,
for here again we are dealing with a traditional image. One
parallel is Wisdom 4:20. At the eschatological judgment, the
wicked « w II come with dread when their sins are reckoned up,
and their lawless deeds will aonvict them to their face»
(t~EaVttac; equivalent to «before him» in the Apocalypse of
Peter).
Even m re illuminating is a pa~allel in so-called 6 Ezra 16:65.
The contex is the impossibility ofl sinners' hiding their sins from
God at his
schatologicaljudgment:
« Let no sinner say he has not sinned ( ) Behold, the Lord «knows ;illl
« Let no
sinner say he has not sinned (
)
Behold, the Lord
«knows ;illl the works of men, I their imaginations and their
«thought~ and their hearts .(
)
63Woe to those who sin and
« want to hide their sins! Becaus~the Lord will strictly examine
« all their works, and will make a public spectacleof all of you.
«And when your sins come out before men, you will be put to
52 BAUCKHAM « shame; and your own iniquities will stand as your accusersin «that day. What
52
BAUCKHAM
« shame; and your own iniquities will stand as your accusersin
«that day. What will you do? Or how will you hide your sins
«before God and his angels?» (6 Ezra 16:53-54,63-66).
The significance of the image is clearly that the evil deeds are
personified as witnesses against
the sinner, accusing him. We
should remember that in Jewish judicial practice the witnesses
were the accusers.It was they who accusedthe person on trial of
the crimes which they had witnessed.So the idea in these apoca-
lyptic passagesis that whereas human justice is imperfect -
becausepeople can be convicted
only of crimes which have been
witnessed and becausewitnesses may not always be reliable -
in the eschatologicaljudgment of God sinners will not be able to
escapecondemnation for every sin, becausethe sins themselves
will be the witnesses accusingthem. Even sins witnessed by no
other human being, sins done in secret, will come to light and
will be undeniable. If the evidence presented against the sinner
is his sins themselves appearing to accusehim, then the evidence
against him will be irrefutable.
The image is thus a way of presenting the idea -which we
have seen to be the dominant idea -of eschatologicaljudgment
according to the deeds of each person. It has the same function
in the depiction of the last judgment as another, parallel image:
the opening of the books in which all the deeds of every person
are recorded. This may be a more familiar image, because it
occurs in biblical depictions of the last judgment, especially
Revelation 20:12: «The dead were judged according to their
works, as recorded in the books ». But the alternative image
used in the Apocalypse of Peter is a peculiarly powerful one. In
the eschatologicaljudgment the sinner will be confronted by his
own sins. His condemnation will
not be an external -and there-
fore always disputable -judgment passed on him by the judge.
His
own evil will condemn him. The justice of his condemnation
will be indisputable.
5. The Ordeal of Fire.
5. The Ordeal of Fire.
The motif of the sins as witnesses,taken literally, would hardly cohere very well with the image
The motif of the sins as witnesses,taken literally, would hardly
cohere very well with the image with which it is combined in
Apocalypse of Peter 6:2-4: the river of fire through which all
must pass.But of course both are imagesand need not be literally
compatible.
The river of fire is the ordeal which tests people's guilt. The
righteous pass through unharmed, the wicked are burned. (As it

R.

APOCALYPSE OF PETER 53 stands the text might seem to suggestthat the righteous do not pass
APOCALYPSE OF PETER
53
stands the text might seem to suggestthat the righteous do not
pass through the river at all, but v. 4 is obscure in the Ethiopic
and probably corrupt. From parallels elsewhere to this kind of
judgment scene, the meaning must be that the righteous are
unharmed by the flames which devour the wicked.) Like the
accusingwitnesses, this feature also derives from ancient judicial
practice:
the notion of a judicial ordeal which distinguishes the
innocent from the wicked. The judicial ordeal was, of course,
actually used in caseswhich could not be decided by the evidence
of
witnesses, as in
the
one example
in the Pentateuch:
Numbers 5:11-31.This provides for the case of a wife suspected
by her husband of adultery, although there are no witnessesto
give evidence against her. So the woman is subjected to an
ordeal (drinking «the water of bitterness») in order to prove
her innocence. This example
makes clear why the image of the
ordeal in the river of fire is strictly incompatible with the image of
the deeds of the sinners as witnessesaccusing them: in terms of
judicial practice no ordeal should be necessarywhen the evidence
of witnessesis conclusive.
An ordeal by plunging in a river was actually an ancientjudicial
practice: it occurs in the code of Hammurabi, for example. The
idea of an eschatological ordeal
by a river of
fire is an ancient
Zoroastrian idea. Unlike some of the ideas which Jewish apoca-
lyptic is sometimes said to have borrowed from Zoroastrian
tradition,
which in
fact cannot be securely traced back to
Zoroastrian
sources old enough to have influenced Jewish
apocalyptic, this idea of the eschatological river of fire which
distinguishes the righteous from the wicked is a genuinely old
Iranian
one,
which
is found
already
in
the
Gathas. The
Apocalypse of Peter seemsto be the earliest Jewish or Christian
text in which
it occurs, but
it presumably was already to be
found in Jewish apocalyptic tradition.
6. The Judgmentof Evil Spirits.
6. The Judgmentof Evil Spirits.
Although chapter 6:6 could very well lead straight into the description of the various different punishments
Although chapter 6:6 could very well lead straight into the
description of the various different punishments in hell which
begins in chapter 7, in fact there is a further passagerelating to
the last judgment itself:
« Uriel, the angel of God, will bring the spirits of the sin- « ners who
« Uriel,
the angel of God, will bring the spirits of the sin-
« ners who perished in the Flood, and of all those who have
« dwelt in every idol, every molten image,
every fetish, and
{( every statue, and those who have dwelt in
every high place,
54 R. BAUCKHAM «in the stones and in the road, and have been called gods. «They
54
R. BAUCKHAM
«in the stones and in the road, and have been called gods.
«They will be burned with them in the eternal fire. When all of
« them
and the places in which they dwelt have perished, they
«will
be punished for ever»
(ApPet 6:7-9).
This passage must be related to the traditions found in the
Enoch literature and in Jubilees about the origin of the evil
spirits. According to 1 Enoch and Jubilees, evil is to be traced
back to the fallen angels, the Watchers, the sons of God of
Genesis6, who before the Flood mated with women and corrup-
ted the earth. Their offspring by their human wives were the
giants, the Nephilim. The Watchers themselveswere punished at
that time by being chained in the underworld, awaiting the last
judgment but no longer perpetrating evil in the world. But their
children the giants became demons: when the giants died, their
spirits continued to live in the world as evil spirits, the demons
who are henceforth responsible for the evil in the world.
In Apocalypse of Peter 6:7, «the spirits of the sinners who
perished in the Flood » cannot be the human sinners who died in
the Flood. For one thing, to introduce this particular category of
humans after the universal judgment of the dead has already
been apparently concluded would be odd. For
another, since the
dead have been presented as resurrected in bodily form, one
would have to
ask why it is
only the spirits of these sinners who
are brought
to
judgment by
Uriel. These sinners who died in the
Flood must be the giants, the sons of the fallen angels,and their
spirits are therefore the demons. Admittedly, in the Enoch
traditions the giants did not actually die in the Flood. They
slaughtered each other prior to the Flood. So the Apocalypse of
Peter must reflect a slightly variant version of the tradition.
But that these spirits are the demons is confirmed by the
following verses which
associatethem with
those who have lived
in every idol and have been called gods. In the Enoch literature
there is only a brief reference associatingthe spirits of the giants
with idolatry (1 Enoch 19:1), but in early Christian writers who
took over the same tradition about the origin of the demons -
Justin (2 Apol. 5) and Athenagoras (Apol. 24-26) -there
is
considerable development of this theme. These writers make it
quite clear that it is the spirits of the dead giants, the demons,who
have inspired idolatrous religion and who are actually worshipped
in pagan religion under the namesof the pagan gods.
That the Apocalypse of Peter in this passageis referring to the
demons who inspire the idolatry of pagan religion is confirmed
by a later passagein the book. One of the categories of sinners
punished in hell is that of people who manufacture idols (10:5-6).
APOCALYPSE OF PETER 55 Then the very next category of sinners (10:7) is that of people
APOCALYPSE OF PETER
55
Then the very next category of sinners (10:7) is that of people
who have forsaken the commandmentof
God and have followed
the will of demons. These must be pagan religious worshippers:
people
who worship idols and follow the will of the demons who
inspire idolatrous religion.
So our passagein chapter 6 describesthe final judgment of the
demons who have been responsible for all idolatrous religion. It
is a version of a traditional feature of the expectation of eschato-
logical judgment:
that not only wicked people will be judged,
but also the powers of supernatural evil.
7. The Punishmentsin Hell. The centrepiece of the whole depiction of judgment in the Apocalypse of
7. The Punishmentsin Hell.
The centrepiece of the whole depiction of judgment in the
Apocalypse of Peter is
chapters 7-12, where we are given a des-
cription of twenty-one different tprms of punishment allotted to
twenty-one
different
categorie$ of sinner. (Presumably the
number twenty-one [3 x 7] is the: sort of number that appeals to
apocalyptists. It may indicate completeness, suggestingthat the
21 punishments are, not all the punishments in hell, but repre-
sentative of all the punishments in hell. But the number seemsto
have no further significance: the punishments do not fall into
three groups of sevenor sevengr9ups of three.)
a) Relationshipto other « tours rf hell ». This account of the punishmerlts in hell is
a)
Relationshipto other « tours rf hell ».
This account of the punishmerlts in hell is clearly very closely
related to a whole series of other Jewish and Christian apoca-
lyptic texts which describe the various punishments for various
sinners in hell. These include
later Christian apocalypses,such as
the Apocalypse of Paul and the Apocalypse of the Virgin, and
medieval Hebrew visions of
hell. The same sins and the same
punishments often recur, with variations, in these texts. We are
clearly dealing with an apocalyptic tradition which continued for
many centuries and in which the latest texts frequently preserve
very old traditional material. Most of these various texts and their
relationships have been studied by Martha Himmelfarb in the
book she devoted to them: Tours of Hell
..
An Apocalyptic Form
in Jewish and
Christian Literature (Philadelphia, 1983). I reached
rather similar
conclusions to hers, at first
independently 45,and I
45.
R.
BAUCKHAM, «The
Apocaliypse
of
Peter
An Account of
Research», op. cu., p. 4726-4733.
56 R. BAUCKHAM have tried to develop some aspectsof her work in more detail 46. Here
56
R. BAUCKHAM
have tried to develop some aspectsof her work in more detail 46.
Here I shall make a number of points about Himmelfarb's work
and with specific reference to the Apocalypse of Peter.
First, Himmelfarb called these texts «tours of hell» because
in almost all of them a visionary (such as Paul or Elijah)
is given,
as it were, a guided tour of
the punishments in hell, usually by an
angel or some other figure
from the otherworld. She pointed out
a
particular
feature of the literary form of these texts. On seeing
a
particular
group of sinners undergoing punishment, the vision-
ary usually asks, «Who are these? », and receives from his guide
an answerbeginning, «These are
...
» (e.g. «these are those who
have committed adultery» or «these are people who used to
gossip in church »). The statements beginning «These are
...
» -
which explain what sort of sinners are being punished -
Himmelfarb calls the «demonstrative explanations ». They cha-
racterize almost all the texts which describe the various punish-
ments in hell. But there is another feature of these texts to which
Himmelfarb does not draw any particular attention: it is that
almost all of them are describing the punishments suffered by
the wicked now, immediately after death, before the day of
judgement at the end of history. This is why someone like Paul
or Rabbi Joshua ben Levi can be taken on a tour of the punish-
ments -because they are actually taking place already. So the
texts are an expression of the belief in the active punishment of
the wicked immediately after
death, before the last judgement.
This belief only developed and gained adherence in both
Judaism and Christianity over the course of the first and second
centuries C.E. The literary genre of the tours of hell within
Jewish and Christian apocalyptic most probably originated in
the first century C.E., along with the belief in punishments for
the wicked immediately after death.
The account of the punishments in the Apocalypse of Peter,
however, is quite exceptional among the tours of hell, in that it is
not
really a tour of hell at all. That is, Peter is not shown around
the punishments in hell that are already taking place when the
revelation is made to him. Rather the account is a prophecy by
Christ to Peter of what will happen to the wicked after the last
judgment. For this reason, the question-and-answer literary
form of the tours of hell is absent. Peter does not see the damn-
ed and ask «who are these? » The demonstrative explanations,
however, are usually present. Without being asked to explain,
Christ, having described each punishment, then identifies the
46.
R.
BAUCKHAM, «Early
Jewish Visions of
Hell », Journal
of
Theological Studies41 (1990),p. 355-385.
APOCALYPS~ OF PETER 57 sinners in a sentence beginning «These are they who ... » or
APOCALYPS~ OF PETER
57
sinners in a sentence beginning «These are they who
...
» or
«These people
...
» It seems clear that 1he tradition which the
author of the Apocalypseof Peter used was a
genuine tour of hell,
in which some visionary saw the punishments, asked questions
and received explanations. But the author wished to use this
traditional material to describe, not the intermediate state, but
the eternal punishments which follow the last judgment. So he
has transformed a description by a visionary of his experiences
into a prophecy put on the lips of Christ. He has eliminated the
questions and retained the demonstrative explanations47.
One reason for this is no doubt the author's imminent expecta-
tion. We do not know what he thought of the intermediate state,
whether he retained, as some other contemporary apocalypses
still did, the old belief that the wicked after death are not yet
actively punished, but are merely detained in the underworld
awaiting punishment at the last judgment; or whether he did hold
the
newer belief
in
the
active
punishment of the wicked
immediately after death. In either case,the intermediate state was
of no great concernto him, becausehe clearly expectedthe end of
history and the last judgment to occur within the very near future.
Secondly, Martha Himmelfarb has done probably almost as
much as can be done to sort out the literary relationships between
the texts which she calls the tours of hell, including the
Apocalypse of Peter.We cannot be sure of the literary relation-
ships becausethere were certainly other texts, especially in the
early
period, which have not survived, and also because there
were probably oral traditions as well as literary relationships
involved. What is clear is that the Apocalypse of Peterwas not the
first such description of the punishments in hell, nor are many of
the later tours of hell to be regarded as indebted to the
Apocalypse of Pete!: The view, which was propounded by M. R.
James and once rather commonly held, that the Apocalypse of
Peterwas the source of this whole
tradition of descriptionsof the
punishments in hell has proved to be untenable. The Apocalypse
of Peter is simply one product of a tradition which antedated it
and which continued after it independently of it. We have at least
one tour of hell which is almost certainly older that the
Apocalypse of Peter and is also Jewish rather than Christian: the
Elijah fragment preserved in the apocryphal Epistle of Titus,
47. The Akhmim text of the Apocalypse of Peter,which is a secondary, redacted version, restores the
47. The Akhmim text of the Apocalypse of Peter,which is a secondary,
redacted version, restores the form of a vision (cf. A2l, A25, A26), but
that this is secondary can be seen from the fact that Peter asks no
questions and the «demonstrative explanations» are not ascribed to
Christ, his guide, but are simply part of the narration.
58 R. BAUCKHAM which is almost certainly a fragment of the original Apocalypse of Elijah of
58
R. BAUCKHAM
which is almost certainly a
fragment of the original Apocalypse of
Elijah of the first century
C.E. So, once again, we must see the
Apocalypseof Peter as taking over and adapting traditional mater-
ial from the existing traditions or literature of Jewishapocalyptic.
Thirdly, Martha Himmelfarb
claims to have disproved the
influential older view of Albrecht Dieterich 48as to the source of
the Apocalypse of Peter's account of hell. Dieterich (who knew
only the Akhmim Greek text, not yet the Ethiopic version of the
Apocalypse
of Peter) argued that the Apocalypse
of Peter
borrowed directly from
an Orphic katabasis: one of the accounts
of a descent to the underworld, describing the rewards and the
punishments of the dead, which were popular in the Greco-
Roman world,
allegedly in a tradition
of popular Orphic-
Pythagorean religion. In opposition to this, Himmelfarb has
convincingly shown that the Jewish and Christian apocalyptic
tradition of tours of hell developed within the Jewish apoca-
lyptic tradition. Probably her best evidence for this is the literary
form of question by the seer followed by demonstrative
explanation from the supernatural guide. This literary form was
already well-established in the Jewish apocalyptic tradition,
where it occurs in many caseswith reference to symbolic visions
or to features of the other world other than the punishments in
hell. The tour
of hell most probably developed as a special
category of the cosmic tour apocalypses.